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Mechanic Hurt as Jet Rolls Down Slope

April 23, 1999|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

A civilian mechanic working on a Navy jet on San Nicolas Island was injured Thursday when the million-dollar aircraft rolled off the runway and down a steep embankment, federal authorities said.

Edwin Valadish was being treated at St. John's Regional Medical Center in Oxnard for fractured leg bones, said Doris Lance, a base spokeswoman.

Lance would not disclose Valadish's age or city of residence.

Valadish was airlifted from the island, which is owned by the Navy and sits about 60 miles off the coast, after the 12:30 p.m. incident, officials said. He was in fair condition Thursday night and expected to undergo surgery.

Naval Cmdr. Alex Hnarakis said Valadish had taxied a $1.2-million F-4 Phantom onto a runway and was sitting in the cockpit during a routine maintenance procedure. He is authorized to move the plane, Hnarakis said.

The plane had burned a large amount of oil during testing Wednesday. Valadish was directed to check the problem by putting more oil in the plane, setting the brake and running the engine at a high rate of speed.

During the test, the plane rolled off the runway and 50 feet down a steep embankment. The commander refused to say what position the plane came to rest in or the extent of damage. It was unclear how Valadish was injured.

An accident investigation team from Point Mugu Naval Air Station was sent to the scene. Results from the investigation will be available in about three weeks, Lance said. Valadish has worked at the Point Mugu station for 11 years.

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