NTSB: Investigators Identify Portions of Plane Tail
Kellene StockwellChannel 2 News
A NTSB investigator says the agency has recovered and identified a portion of the tail of the plane involved in Friday's crash at the Reno Air Races.
Mark Rosekind says the crater left behind by the crash measures 6-8 feet wide and three feet deep and the actual crash site is more than an acre large. The hole is brown, compared with the black tarmac all around it.
Based on the crater's location, it appears the P-51 Mustang went straight down in the first few rows of VIP box seats, or about 65 feet in front of the leading edge of the grandstand.
Yellow crime tape surrounds the scene and seats are askew.
An investigator says it will be ‘highly difficult' to recreate the wreckage scene since the plane is in fragments.
The recovered plane tail is also in pieces.
On Sunday, investigators will document the rest of the site for a detailed analysis later.
Pictures and video obtained by the NTSB will be transported to its lab in Washington, D.C. on Monday.
Reno police say nine people total, including the pilot, died after Friday's plane crash at the Reno Air Races.
Deputy Reno Police Chief Dave Evans says seven of the victims died on the tarmac including the pilot of the Galloping Ghost, 74-year-old Jimmy Leeward.
Police say 69 people were treated at hospitals, 31 of them were admitted.
At a late afternoon press conference, Renown Regional Medical Center representatives said they had over 100 medical-related volunteers come into and offer assistance to those injured.
Chief Trauma Surgeon Myron Gomez says two children were treated for undisclosed injuries after the crash. Many patients suffered head trauma, while others suffered limb loss and are awaiting additional surgery.
Michael Morkin, Medical Director of Emergency Services added Renown had six ER physicians on duty Friday and another additional four were called in to help.
They say they treated a total of 34 patients total at their main location. (Four walk in patients went to Renown today. Two received treatment, while another two still await treatment at this time of this writing.)
Renown says 6 patients remain in ICU - at the time of this writing.
A Family Assistance Center to aid in the identification and location of victims of yesterday's incident at the Reno Championship Air Races has been established at the Hyatt Place Hotel at 1790 East Plumb Lane in Reno – directly across the street from the Reno Tahoe International Airport.
The Washoe County Medical Examiner at the Family Assistance Center will be taking reports of missing persons and will be working with the identification of victims. The Center will also offer access to counseling services. The American Red Cross also has representatives at the Family Assistance Center.
Also, at the mid-day press conference, Rosekind said the agency walked through the crash site on Saturday morning. (It is common practice for three NTSB investigators to be on hand for air races or shows.) An 'extensive analysis' of the crash will begin soon and a full report on what caused the crash can be expected in six to nine months from now.
Rosekind added it's unlikely the plane had a recording device inside due to modifications.
Rosekind said the NTSB is encouraged by the number of videos and photos available to them. He added it will take some time to review them all.
The runway has since been swept in preparation for the Reno-Stead Airport to reopen – at a later undetermined date.
Authorities say 'Galloping Ghost' crashed in front of boxseat rows A & B. Spectators were most likely hit by flying debris from the initial crash impact.
The WWII-era P51 Mustang was third in contention during the gold heat qualifying race when the crash happened. It was the last race of the day.
Organizers of the National Championship Air Races earlier said it appears a mechanical failure with the P51 Mustang was to blame. "Our job is to identify what caused this accident so we can make safety recommendations so it doesn't happen again," says Rosekind.
Leeward had been a pilot since he was 14 years old.
The rest of the events at the National Championship Air Races are canceled this weekend.
The race has a history of accidents. Twenty-two people have died since it began in 1964, but this is the first time a crash has killed spectators.
Those wishing to check on the status of loved ones should call 775.337.5800 or locally dialing 211.
Blood donations are now being accepted for crash victims. We are told there is currently a three-hour wait to donate.
UBS centers are located at: 1125 Terminal Way, Reno 4670 Sparks Boulevard, Sparks 256 E. Winnie Lane, Carson City
O negative is the blood type most desired but all blood types are needed.
The Summit Christian Church at 7075 Pyramid Way in Sparks is also holding a blood drive this weekend Saturday: 4pm – 7:45 pm & Sunday: 8am – 1:30 pm. To sign up just go to bloodhero.com They will also accept walk ins this weekend.
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that prior to Friday's crash, 17 people had been killed at the air races since their start 1964.