|30-Year Old Jet Crash Documents Released|
Published: Friday, 20 July 2012 05:14
Accident in 1973 worst lost of life in Alameda history
Courtesy Alameda Fire Department
A Navy jet crashed into Alameda apartment buildings almost 40 years ago.
A freelance journalist with the Miami Herald, Theo Karantsalis, will soon shed new light on the cause of an accident that brought horror to Alameda on Feb. 7, 1973. Karantsalis recently obtained the 98-page report about the crash.
Although he lives in Florida today, Karantsalis is no stranger to the Island City. He graduated from Encinal High School in 1979. He was known as Ted Karas when he lived here. He was 12 years old at the time of the crash and has not forgotten it.
When the Navy jet struck the Tahoe Apartments on Central Avenue it was traveling at about Mach 1, equal to the speed of sound, some 761 miles per hour, according to a U.S. government report Karantsalis obtained almost 40 years after the crash.
The apartment building destroyed in the crash was replaced with The Sycamore apartment complex.
The Navy has said the record was missing and presumably lost in response to previous Freedom of Information Act requests over the years.
Although there was speculation soon after the accident that the pilot may have tried to light a cigarette while flying, thus touching off a fire that caused the crash, that isn't borne out by the newly released report, Karantsalis writes.
On the evening of Feb. 7, 1973, Alameda firefighters were called to the Tahoe Apartment Building in the 1800 block of Central Avenue.
They arrived to a devastating scene. At 8:13 p.m. a U.S. Navy A- 7E Corsair II jet interceptor had crashed into the apartments there. The impact of the crash and the fire it caused destroyed the Tahoe Apartment Building along with three other nearby apartment houses.
The jet, which was flying on a routine training mission, had no connection to the Naval Air Station in Alameda. It was assigned to Attack Squadron VA-195, from the Lemoore Naval Air Station located southwest of Fresno.
Firefighters arrived to find that some survivors had leaped from windows and slid down bed-sheets to escape the inferno. Firefighters kept the flames from spreading despite the dropping water pressure in the fire hydrants. The fire killed 11 people, including the pilot, Lieutenant Robert Lee Ward. The accident caused the greatest one-day loss of life in the history of the city of Alameda.