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At least 5 killed at Reno air show, authorities say

September 16, 2011 |  6:24 pm

Pilot Jimmy Leeward
At least 5 people were killed after a plane crashed into the VIP stands at an air show in Reno late Friday afternoon.

[Editors note: Authorities late Friday reported the death toll from the crash was three, including the pilot, with 50 other people injured, some critically]

The plane crashed near the bleachers at the National Championship Air Races, said Michelle Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Reno Fire Department. The pilot was reported dead, as were four others.

PHOTOS: Reno air show tragedy

Mike Houghton, president and chief executive of the Reno Air Racing Assn., said at a news conference that 40 to 50 people were injured in the crash.  He identified the pilot as Jimmy Leeward, a real estate developer from Ocala, Fla., who has been racing in Reno since 1975.

FULL COVERAGE: Deadly crash at Reno air show

The full scope of the disaster was unclear. Officials described a scene of chaos as they tried to assess the damage.

"We have five bodies out there, but they transported a whole load to hospitals," Lt. Mac Venzon of the Washoe County Sheriff's Department told The Times. "We're just trying to establish a scene and get everybody cleared out of here, and then we'll know more," he said.  


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Photo: Longtime Reno Air Races pilot Jimmy Leeward is shown in this Sept. 15, 2010, photo. A spokesman for Reno's National Championship Air Races says the P-51 Mustang that crashed into a box-seat area at the front of the grandstand Friday was piloted by Leeward. Credit: Marilyn Newton / Reno Gazette-Journal