F- 18 crashes into apartment complex in Virginia Beach
Sunday, April 8, 2012
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Emergency crews search for charred remains of a Virginia Beach apartment complex today after a jet fighter crashed just after takeoff in what Navy officials called a "catastrophic mechanical failure."
Two Navy pilots - a student and instructor from the nearby Naval Air Station Oceania - issued before the jet was turned into the apartment complex, destroying parts of several buildings and other fire hit. About 40 apartment units were damaged or destroyed in the crash, but no casualties have been reported hours later.
Seven people, including the pilot, was taken to hospital. All but one of the pilot who was released by late afternoon.
Virginia Beach Fire Department Capt. Tim Riley said more than two dozen people still missing, although all but six of the most damaged apartment was searched.
"What I pray, what I'm thinking about right now is that we did not find any more victims," Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms told reporters.
Two seat F18 Hornet has wasted a lot of fuel before it crashed, although it is unclear whether it is due to damage or deliberate maneuver by the pilot, Captain Mark Weisgerber said the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Jet that crashed less than 10 miles from Oceana.
Bruce Nedelka, Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said witnesses saw the fuel discharged from the jet before it fell, and fuel were found in buildings and vehicles in the area.
The plane did not have as much fuel on board the "reduced what could be absolutely huge, huge fireball and fire," said Nedelka. "With all that jet fuel dumped, it is far less than what it could have been."
The accident occurred in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Oceania Naval Air Station, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, located in Virginia Beach. The second pilot from Virginia Beach, Weisgerber said.
Weisgerber said he did not know how many times the student pilot has been in the air, but that the instructor was "very experienced."
Dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filled with a densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hose winding through the streets as fire crews poured water on the roof of a house burnt brick apartment house. By late afternoon, the fire has been extinguished.
Citizen apartment complex described a scene of confusion and a pilot apologized.
Colby Smith said the house started shaking and then rule it out, because he saw the red and orange flames outside the window. He ran outside, where he saw black smoke and then arrived at the pilot as he ran into a friend's house.
"I saw a parachute in the house and he is still connected, and he lay on the ground with a face full of blood," said Smith WVEC-TV.
"The pilot said," I'm sorry to destroy your house. '"
Smith said he and another man helped the pilot to the road.
Patrick Kavanaugh, who lived at the complex where the jet down, opened the sliding glass door after hearing a loud explosion and saw a jet pilot on the ground with blood on her face. Kavanaugh said the pilot, which he described as "young," very disappointed and sorry.
"The poor guy was in shock. I checked for broken bones and open wounds," said Kavanaugh, who spent 23 years at the rescue squad and retired in 1996.
Despite having suffered a heart attack and several open-heart surgery, Kavanaugh said the rescue skills of kicking, dragging his old pilots around the corner and away from the fire before another blast occurred a few.
As the government closed the road in the neighborhood, traffic backed up on the streets and in the nearby Interstate 264, with a slow-moving column of vehicles carrying drivers for virtual standstill earlier this afternoon.
Edna Lukens, who works in an apartment complex across the street from the crash, said she saw three apartment buildings on fire.
"We heard a loud noise and we looked out the window and there was smoke all in the sky And then the fire started up in the sky. And then the new building began to burn and the police were called and everyone came out," Lukens said.
Felissa Ezell, 71, was sitting on a folding chair outside his townhouse near the crash site today and remember hearing the crash as he returned home the previous day.
"Oh, God, I heard three very loud explosions, then the black smoke rose high in the sky," he said.
The same model of fighter jet, an F/A-18D, fell in December of 2008 when he returned to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after a workout in San Diego neighborhood. Accident that killed four members of one family and destroyed two homes.
Marine Corps said the jet had mechanical failure, but a series of bad decisions that led to the pilot - student - to bypass a potentially safe landing at a coastal Navy base after the engine failed. Issued and the pilot told investigators he screamed in terror when he saw the jet plows into the environment, set fire to two houses. A federal judge ordered the U.S. government to pay the family nearly $ 18 million in restitution.
Most flights from Oceana Naval Air Station lot of flight training, Weisgerber said.
"This is where our Navy F18 pilot taught for the first time in the run-plane representation," he said.