Local Documentary Honors Victims and First Responders from Air Race Crash


“I literally owe my life to a set of people who reacted so heroically.” Out of the tragedy of the 2011 Air Races’ crash came many incredible stories – each one a sign of the strength and spirit of the Truckee Meadows. “That was the City of Reno, that was first responders in Reno, that was the people of Reno.”

Stories of nurses opening their homes, making dinner and doing laundry for victims and their families, candlelight vigils honoring the 11 lives lost and more than 60 injured survivors, among many more. Local filmmaker Christine Lazzarini tells these powerful stories in a new documentary, Broken Propeller, which premieres locally Sunday, September 16.

Documentary Highlights Stories of First Responders and Survivors

This documentary highlights the first responders and everyday citizens who took quick action that day. It also tells the story of the Elvin family who has a long love of the Air Races. Cherie Elvin, 73, lost her life in the crash and her husband, Chuck, their two sons and daughter-in-law all lost part of their right legs. The Elvins were treated at area hospitals and remain incredibly grateful for the care, kindness and support received in northern Nevada.

“I literally owe my life to a set of people who reacted so heroically,” crash survivor Bill Elvin says in the documentary. “There were people up in the stands that while the crash was occurring, they were running toward it.”

“That was the city of Reno. That was first responders in Reno. That was the people of Reno. I had no idea what all was involved or how things came together until months after the accident,” says Jim Elvin.

The Elvin family was so touched by the support and care they received, they established an endowment that awards an annual scholarship to a local nurse in pursuit of higher education. But as this documentary shows, it wasn’t just the survivors and patients who were touched by this event – so were the care providers.


“When we went back to Reno a year later, Bill and I first started walking toward our box seats,” Bill Elvin’s wife, Rachel, recounts in the documentary. “She came rushing down the bleachers and just almost tackled us with a hug because she was just in complete and utter disbelief and shock and so happy that he made it because she recognized him immediately. She had no idea, you know who we were, where we lived, how to find us and that he survived.”

Rachel is talking about Deb Sherman, a fellow spectator and nurse who raced to help Bill and other victims immediately following the crash.

“When I got down [the bleachers], Bill looked up at me and said ‘you’re the angel I’ve been looking for for a year. I’m glad to finally meet you, thank you for saving my life’,” Deb remembers with tears in her eyes.


Documentary Premieres in Reno on September 16

These are just a few of the many powerful stories featured in Broken Propeller. The documentary was supported by care providers and emergency responders across the Truckee Meadows including Renown Health, REMSA, Washoe County Emergency Services, and many more.

Broken Propeller Public Viewing

Sunday, September 16, 7 – 10 p.m.

Joe Crowley Theater

University of Nevada, Reno campus

Tickets: $25 per person

Public Viewing Event DetailsDonate to the Cherie Elvin Memorial Fund