DALLAS — Gary L. Cain, president of Cain Food Industries Inc., and his wife Lisa were recovering at home in Dallas this week after suffering injuries when a plane crashed near their booth Sept. 16 at the Reno Air Races.
Mr. Cain, who is a pilot, has attended the Reno event, also known as the National Championship Air Races, each year since 2005. The races are held at the Reno Stead Airport just north of Reno, Nev.
The Cains were sitting in Booth 101 on the tarmac, beneath the grandstand. The P-51 Mustang crashed into Booth 100, 25 feet from the Cains, killing 11 and injuring 70.
Recalling the moments before the accident, Mr. Cain said he and a group of 14 had been celebrating the races with a toast when they heard sounds of “oh” and gasps from the crowd.
“Whenever you hear that at a race, you always look up,” Mr. Cain said. “The Galloping Ghost rolled over, and the guy next to me said, ‘Run, he’s gonna hit us.’ We had less than two seconds to react. I got tangled up in the chairs. I looked up and saw the plane 40 feet above, coming right at us.”
Mr. Cain was knocked backward from the crash and did not immediately realize a piece of shrapnel had cut deeply through the middle of his calf. He suffered a severed Achilles tendon, a broken tibia (in seven places) and a compound fracture of the fibula.
The situation was even worse for others around him.
“There were body parts everywhere,” Mr. Cain said. “A guy next to me was dead.”
Ms. Cain, who had been standing to Mr. Cain’s right, was able to turn and run when they were warned.
“The impact of the crash threw her 20 feet into the grandstand,” Mr. Cain said. “She was hit along the back of the arm by a piece of hot shrapnel and suffered a concussion as well as bruises and contusions.”
Many who attend the race formerly served in the armed forces, and Mr. Cain said several former members of the Air Force immediately began performing triage on the injured, marking Mr. Cain with a red tag meaning critically injured.
Mr. Cain had high praise for volunteers at the race who were very helpful methodically assisting the injured. He was at the hospital less than 45 minutes following the accident.
At the hospital, Mr. Cain went through two operations to repair his injured leg. He expects to be on crutches for a year.
“I will be totally off the leg for six weeks, then we will wait and see,” he said. “I will be able to walk again, but I don’t know when.”
Ms. Cain is recovering well, he said.
“Physically, we’re both on track,” he said. “Emotionally, well, I start post traumatic stress disorder treatment on Monday. Lisa already has started.”
Mr. Cain said he has been “overwhelmed” by outpourings of concern from colleagues in the industry and is encouraged by his prognosis.
“The doctor says I’ll be able to jump again,” Mr. Cain said. “He said I won’t be able to dunk, but that’s okay since I’ve never been able to do that anyway.”