Nine dead, dozens injured, and a tragic ending to a familiar, community event. This was the scene in Reno, Nevada last Friday when Jimmy Leeward, the 74 year old pilot of a classic World War II P-51 Mustang plane, lost control of his aircraft and flew into a crowd of onlookers like a missile honed on a human target.
One bystander who was caught in the debris said, “I mean, I look up and I’m sitting there, like, OK, I’m gonna die, I’m just gonna run. I’m just gonna give it all I got.” These words came from a nearby medical center where Jonah Joraanstad was recovering from an injury that could have been much worse. Apparently, shrapnel landed in his back, coming incredibly close to his spine and his kidneys, either of which would have been much more devastating.
Officials are saying that of the 69 people who were injured and taken to the hospital, more than half have been released, but 31 continue to undergo treatment. Doctors even admitted that this was among the most serious situations they had ever witnessed. Patients came in with head wounds, trauma to the face, and injured limbs requiring amputation.
When it comes to the pilot, whose plane was called ‘The Galloping Ghost’, some experts are suggesting he did a heroic move at the last minute to prevent even more deaths and injuries. They argue that his plane pulled up at the last second in a direction opposite of the crowd. Whether the last second save was intentional or not, Leeward was a remarkable pilot who never imagined that his life would end in such a tragic manner. Our hearts go out to the families of those whose lives were cut short over the weekend.
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