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After 39 years, report surfaces on Navy jet crash that killed 11 in Alameda*

Friday, July 13, 2012

Theo Karantsalis was an Alameda middle-schooler in 1973 when an A-7E Corsair II Navy jet crashed into the four-story Tahoe Apartments building in the middle of town, sending a fiery mushroom cloud high above the bay. Eleven people died, including the pilot, Navy lieutenant Robert Lee Ward, and dozens more were injured.

Karantsalis (known as Ted Karas as a child) is a freelance writer in Miami these days, and has just come up with a reputedly long-lost government record of the horrific crash, relinquished as the result of a public records request and published at Springyleaks.

The redacted 98-page report shows that when the jet slammed into the apartment building at 1814 Central Avenue the night of Feb. 7, 1973 during a training flight with another jet en route to Sacramento, it was traveling at more than 600 miles per hour. [You can read the entire report here.]

From Springyleaks:
Initial news reports speculated that the 28-year old pilot, Lt. Robert Lee Ward, may have attempted to light a cigarette inside the cockpit causing a fire that resulted in the crash.  The government’s “final investigative report” was eventually shipped to a long-term storage facility at the National Records Center in Maryland – then never seen again.     
“The entire record is missing and presumed lost,” wrote a Navy spokesman on March 6, 2012, in response to one of several FOIA requests – over the course of years -- seeking a copy of the official crash report.  “To the extent that there were any pictures or documents concerning this incident in that file, they would have been lost with it.”
But “copies” of the report were located from another agency and finally released.  The records show that investigators pieced together remnants of the jet that were dug out of a 20-foot pit that pierced a 6-inch slab of concrete on the first floor.
There’s more on the crash here.

[Hat tip: Alameda Patch]
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