Reno Death Toll Rises to Nine

Paul Sakuma / AP Photos

Fresh flower are left near the front entrance as a security guard stands nearby at the Reno Air Races in Reno, Nev., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011. The Reno Air Races was canceled after pilot Jimmy Leeward plane crashed on Friday. (

The death toll from Reno’s air-race crash rose Saturday to nine, including the pilot, and officials said 69 people were hurt with a “wide range” of injuries. Eight people remained in critical condition Saturday night, and officials said Reno Police Chief Mac Venzon said it is unknown if the death toll will continue to rise. “It was traumatic,” said Renown Regional Medical Center director Michael Morkin. “This is my 16th year here, and this is the worst I’ve seen.” Witnesses reported that a piece of the plane’s tail fell off, and some on the scene said they believed the pilot, Jimmy Leeward, 74, nosedived the plane to avoid crashing into the crowd and possibly killing hundreds. The husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, astronaut Mark Kelly, had been scheduled to fly in this weekend’s air show prior to its cancellation.