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Civilians Injured While Touring Docked Aircraft Carrier

August 23, 1989

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (AP) _ A blown elevator valve aboard the USS John F. Kennedy was blamed for panic and most of the 30 injuries among some 60 civilian visitors.

A ″vent, really a pressure release valve, popped off,″ Lt. Fred Henney, public affairs officer aboard the Kennedy, said of the incident Tuesday.

A small amount of pressurized air, water and hydraulic fluid was released after the valve popped, he said. It is part of the hydraulic system that raises and lowers the lift, which can hoist two bomb-laden F-14 Tomcat fighter jets to the carrier’s flight deck.

Originally, officials thought a broken hydraulic line spraying fluid caused the more than 60 riders to panic and stampede off the platform. ″There was no explosion, no ruptured line,″ Henney said.

″Panic seems to have been what caused most of the problems and injuries,″ said Navy Cmdr. Shawn Etter, a ship’s officer.

Two of those hurt were admitted to Broward General Medical Center. Dorothy Klaer, 61, complained of chest pains, and Francis Harrington, 61, had a possible stroke. Klaer is in satisfactory condition and Harrington’s condition is fair, said hospital spokesman Craig Biles.

The rest of the injured were treated for minor bumps and bruises, and had hydraulic fluid flushed from their eyes in the ship’s infirmary, said Dominic Lanza, district supervisor of Broward County’s emergency medical services.

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