Elvin was pronounced dead on Tuesday, one of 11 killed, including pilot Jimmy Leeward, in the nation’s deadliest air race crash.
Four other members of the Elvin family were injured when Leeward’s vintage World War II-era fighter plan spiraled out of control, barrel-rolled and nose-dived into the VIP section at Reno-Stead Airport on Friday, throwing shrapnel and plane debris hundreds of feet across the tarmac.
Chuck Elvin, 73, Cherie’s husband, remained in critical condition Wednesday, but family members reported that he was alert and talking. Cherie’s son Brian Elvin, 49, a pilot, was listed in fair condition. He attended a news conference held by the Elvin family at Renown Regional Medical Center Wednesday in courageous form, carrying himself into the room with the help of a walker after having his right leg amputated at the knee. Bill Elvin, 41, also Cherie’s son, was listed in fair condition. And Linda Elvin, 45, Brian’s wife, was reported in serious condition at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.
“All of them will survive,” said Allen Martin Elvin, 54, a family spokesman, “but not without the help of each other, without our family and without dear friends.”
The Elvin’s thanked first responders, hospital staff and people from all over the country for their help, thoughts and prayers.
“We know there has been a tremendous outpouring of concern and support for the Elvin family,” Allen said. “We are very, very grateful for that. On behalf of the Elvin family, our hearts truly go out to all the other families who have lost loved ones or who have someone who is recovering from their injuries.”
The Elvin family has attended the air races for more than 16 years, Allen said, and the event had become a sort of mini family reunion and annual tradition.
“We want people to know that the Elvin’s love the air races,” Allen said.
Of all the family members, Cherie was perhaps the most thrilled to be at the event.
“The air races were a real highlight for her,” said Jim Elvin, Cherie’s oldest son. “There wasn’t any place else she would rather be. She was where she wanted to be — with her family.”
Family members, who noticeably choked up when talking about her life, described Cherie as an amazing and incredible woman. She worked for years as an operations manager at a local television station in Kansas City, Mo., and volunteered regularly alongside her husband after retirement.
“We take solace in the fact that we’re going to get through this and we’re going to be stronger in spite of it,” Jim said.
Speculation has swirled since Friday’s tragedy that the Reno Air Races might never be held again. But the Elvin’s said this would be a travesty in its own right.
“Cherie would not want this accident, as tragic as it is, to be the reason that the air races are cancelled,” Allen said. “She loved it and we believe that she would want all of us to continue to love it.”