Reward offered for fugitive mechanic possibly involved in '96 ValuJet crash

FBI offers $10,000 reward

By Jeff Tavss - Executive Producer

MIAMI - More than two decades after ValuJet Flight 592 crashed into the Everglades after taking off from Miami, a new reward is being offered to find a fugitive mechanic who may have had a role in the disaster.

The FBI announced the $10,000 reward Thursday for any information leading to the capture of Mauro Ociel Valenzuela-Reyes.

Valenzuela-Reyes was a mechanic for SabreTech, the maintenance contractor for ValuJet. He disappeared in 1999 while facing federal charges after investigators determined he may have had a hand in the crash that killed 110 passengers and crew members on May 11, 1996.

Investigators said the mishandling and packaging of oxygen generators placed in the plane's cargo hold led to the crash. The generators were missing required safety caps, which led to a fire just minutes after taking off from Miami International Airport.

Despite efforts to turn the plane around, the DC-9 plunged nose-down into the Everglades.

"We want closure," FBI Miami Special Agent Jacqueline Fruge said.

A new poster showing how Valenzuela-Reyes may have aged through the years was released along with the reward announcement.

The FBI said Valenzuela-Reyes has connections in Atlanta, where his ex-wife and kids live, and Santiago, Chile, where he also has family and could be living under a false identity.

If captured, Valenzuela-Reyes would face the original charges, in addition to charges for fleeing and failing to appear at his trial.

"We've tried over the years to find him," Fruge said. "It bothers me. I've lived and breathed it for many, many years."

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