An F-18 military fighter jet crashed into an apartment building near a small community in Virginia Beach on Friday afternoon. The two-man crew reportedly ejected before careening into the ground just in between a grade school and an animal rescue center.
Cmdr. Phil Rosi of the Naval Air Forces Atlantic said the plane was part of the Strike Fighter Squadron 106 and confirmed that the two airmen ejected from the plane that was based at Naval Air Station Oceana, reported WAVY.com. The plane apparently encountered technical difficulties after taking off.
One pilot was reportedly taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.
We heard the rumble and I thought it was just a truck passing by, said Kathryn Fisher, director of the Old Guard Station, who was eating lunch with a friend, reported HamptonRoads.com, but Darcy said it felt just like the earthquake.
Another witness to the crash said he saw the plane flying low, with its nose up, tail down and ejecting fuel.
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It came over the top of my truck emptying fuel, said George Pilkington, reported CNN.That it didn't cause more damage to the apartment buildings was a blessing.
Zack Zapatero said the plane crashed into buildings occupied by senior citizens.
There's these large fire balls coming up, Zapatero said. I was told there was a bunch of senior citizens that live in that building, which worries me a lot. Buildings were starting to collapse.
Battalion Chief Tim Riley of the fire department said they did not have an accurate assessment of the damage, but there were at least two buildings on fire. There were no apparent signs of casualties. However, the fire appeared to be mostly under control, but was not officially extinguished, reported HamptonRoads.
Virginia State Police shut down Interstate 264 while authorities investigate the scene of the accident. Virginia Department of Transportation traffic camera showed heavy black smoke rising into the afternoon sky from Birdneck Road, reported WAVY.
You pray that something like this never happens, and now it's happened, Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms said, reported HamptonRoads. Now we want to see the extent of the injuries and death and pray that it's minimal.
Gov. Bob McDonnell assured residents that all necessary steps were being taken to assist in addressing the cleanup and investigation.
In the past half hour I have spoken to Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms several times and informed him that all Commonwealth resources are available to him as the community responds to this breaking situation, said the governor. We are monitoring events carefully as they unfold and State Police resources are now on the scene. Our fervent prayer is that no one was injured or killed in this accident.