Mechanical failures resulting in deaths have always left me with a haunting and bewildering feeling. When I was in the Air Force working on B-52's, one of our bombers crashed on takeoff. Apparently the pilot lost his steering about 2/3 down the runway. The bomber veered right and cartwheeled killing all on board. This happened on a Sunday afternoon. When I went into work Monday morning I was told about it and was asked if I could help identify aircraft parts in the debris field. I walked around the crash site with several high ranking officers who had their staff taking photos and taking notes. That was the most haunting thing I have ever experienced. No one was allowed close to the cockpit which was still partially intact because they had not recovered the bodies yet. It was still too hot to get them out.
For months after that incident I thought about that accident almost constantly. I had worked on that plane just 3 days prior to that. I retraced every movement of my inspection I did in my mind over and over again. I was constantly wondering if I had missed something, something I could have done different. I was discharged in June of 1974 and it wasn't until the following September the results of the investigation came back. A hydraulic pump for the steering failed...mechanical failure. I was never called into the investigation because the bomber had flown 3 times since I worked on it and it had 2 basic post flight inspections after I had it.
The results from the Reno crash won't be in for some time, but I'm guessing that it was mechanical failure. I'm sure the pilot, had he had 10,000ft of elevation could have discovered the problem and compensated. However, at 300ft and going as fast as he was, he probably didn't have time to even evaluate what went wrong.
The Spokesman-Review posted some photos of the accident. Some are pretty graphic.