Renewed search for mechanic charged in ValuJet crash
ATLANTA - The FBI is looking for a fugitive mechanic who could have important information in the crash of ValuJet flight 592. This week, they have offered a $10,000 reward for the capture of Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes who they believe has ties to Atlanta and Chile.
It was May 11, 1996, when flight 592 crashed into the Everglades, killing all 110 people onboard. More than forty victims were from Georgia, most from metro Atlanta.
The jet had just left Miami International Airport and was bound for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Fast-forward 22 years, the FBI released an aged composite of the mechanic who worked for Valujet’s maintenance contractor at the time.
“Mechanics are like pilots we all speak the same language. And the mechanic says that airplanes good to go that airplane’s a green airplane, I’m gonna rely upon that,” said Alan Armstrong, an Atlanta-based aviation expert and attorney.
The Miami FBI office told FOX 5 News that Valenzuela-Reyes was criminally charged in 1999 after he mishandled oxygen generators placed in the plane's cargo space but fled before trial.
The FBI said the generators didn't have safety caps and ignited the cargo area bringing down the jet minutes after takeoff.
“In nine minutes the airplane was down. It was a fast-moving fire that was catastrophic. It destroyed the electrical system and the flight control system,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong is very familiar with all types of aviation systems. He had been a pilot more than forty years.
“We need to know with finality what happened,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong said the capture of Valenzuela-Reyes, who according to the FBI has ties to Atlanta and Chile, may help provide a long sought after closure.
“The people who suffered the deaths of loved ones on this horrific episode and this man needs to be brought to justice,” said Armstrong.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Valenzuela-Reyes is asked to contact the FBI or law enforcement.