Saturday, April 7, 2012
Navy Jet Crashes Into Virginia Apartments, 3 Unaccounted For
"We have physically been in every structure, and we have 95 percent completed the search and rescue," Virginia Beach Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Tim Riley said.
All the injuries, including those to the F/A-18 crew, have so far been described as minor, officials said. Both crew members ejected safely from the aircraft before it crashed into the buildings in Virginia Beach, and one pilot was found still strapped into his ejection seat.
Four of the injured were taken to a hospital for treatment. Authorities had said nine people were injured, but later revised the number to seven, not including the pilots.
Thick black clouds of smoke billowed into the air as fire reduced the apartment buildings to a blackened shell. The Mayfair Mews complex was less than two miles from Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F-18D was based.
Crews searched for any injured residents in five buildings, several of which have collapsed, Riley said. Three residents in one building were unaccounted for. Investigators will remain on the scene for three or four more days after the search is complete, Riley said.
"It almost looked like the nose was pointed up," she said, "like he was trying to pull back up."
McQuaid said she saw one of the pilots as he was brought out on a stretcher. "He actually looked pretty well," she said. You could tell he was pretty dazed, and there were scratches on his face."
She said people closer to the scene told her that the pilot apologized for crashing the plane into the building as he was being helped.
Vicki Hoffman, who lives in a condo next door to the Mews, said one pilot landed on her neighbor's patio.