April 6th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Navy jet crashes into apartments in Virginia

[Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET] A Navy fighter jet experienced a "catastrophic mechanical malfunction" during takeoff Friday over the military community of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and rained a stench of jet fuel shortly before crashing into apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.


The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the dumping of jet fuel was "one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction," Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters.

The malfunction is being investigated, he said.

The two pilots, a police officer and three other people were taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Dr. Thomas Thames, the hospital's vice president of medical affairs, told CNN affiliate WAVY.

None of the injuries was considered life-threatening, Thames said.

Virginia Beach Mayor William Sessoms told CNN that nine people suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The crash and explosion ruptured the easy mood of spring break and the unfolding Easter and Passover holiday weekend, and the two-seater F/A-18 jet landed eerily upright in flames in a courtyard surrounded by five apartment buildings suddenly set afire, according to residents and authorities.

The two crew members ejected safely, the Navy said. Resident Pat Kavanaugh told CNN affiliate WTKR that he and others found one of them still strapped to his seat with a lacerated face. Kavanaugh said he was on his couch when he heard a loud boom and was startled to see a parachute hanging from the building.

soundoff (259 Responses)
  1. Teresa Yaeger

    May I add I am sure that Operation Blessing has got to be down there helping people since their HQ is here. So is the American Red Cross. Some may not like Pat Robertson. But Operation Blessing is already down in Texas with the Tornado victims and I am sure they are getting their crews together to help at the ocean. (Va Beach) locals call it the ocean. : }

    April 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    My thoughts and good wishes to all involved.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dmm1

    "That it didn't cause more damage to the apartment buildings was a blessing," No, it was because the pilots slowed the plane down and dumped fuel.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jhemphill83

    It makes me cringe when I read and hear comments from people saying "have some respect, members of the military have died so that you can have your freedoms." – umm actually members of the military FROM OTHER COUNTRIES have died that allowed us to maintain our freedoms because you don't win a war by dying.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      You're kidding, right?

      April 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. shawn

    Omg let me guess next this was race driven to and obamas gona come out and say " that could have been me or one of my kids I imagin that if I had a son it would have looked like one of them. What bs

    April 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • gram

      No. Next someone with less intelligence will bring up race here. Oh, that would be you!

      April 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Shannon

    First, let me say that I fully support the military and appreciate all of the sacrifice's they make to protect our country. I do NOT, however, support them flying their training missions over residential areas when they have more than enough space to be able to fly over the water. (Please feel free to look at a map BEFORE arguing this point.) Also, they have been flying extremely LOW the past few weeks. I have seen them whip across the interstates and residential areas, go completely vertical and drop over residential areas... and these stunts were NOT part of any type of show. This is something that people here have been scared would happen. It wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

    April 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • NavyMom

      As I said in my first post, my daughter has expressed this to me on many ocassions when we are on the phone. She has said that sometimes it frightenening how low they fly over the residential areas. The buildings shake, windows rattle and you can't hear yourself think. I can't wait until my son in law is finished his time and they can come home.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Duane

    Wow hope no one died in this....I know reports are early but I hope all are safe

    April 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Area51

    Did anybody see the flying saucer that crashed ?

    April 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. brad

    wow i use to live in those appartments. I pray people i know that still leave there are ok

    April 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      Brad the news wants to know if it a senior citizen complex?

      April 6, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Gar

    Mac, you are a jerk. How could you wish death upon all of the innocent people in America? How can you rejoice at someones death? Do us all a favor and get off the comments.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NavyMom

    Thank you Maida85, rhami008 and Dana. That is right next door to where they live. I'll just ignore the ignorance and stupidity of some others here.
    I spoke to my son in law and he said he's been receiving updates from his command about the accident and the pilot tried to reach the ocean but couldn't make it.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      To Navy Mom you are absolutely right! No pilot wants to land in a populated area! People who do not live hear do not realize how close he was to the ocean. The pilot was only 1.3 miles away from the ocean! Obviously they had NO CHOICE. I have lived here my entire life, so I consider myself someone who knows the area. And. my husband did 21 years in the US Navy. Good on you Navy Mom for standing up for what is right!

      April 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mac

    what about the innocent ppl in iraq and afghanistan?? or those when the states dropped two nukes (the only country to ever use one)

    April 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mac

    gimme some big casualty #s!

    April 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. digitalshaman1

    This is a tragedy and that it has not happened before is a testament to the care and skill of the Navy as they have consistently fought with the City of Virginia beach and our former mayor, Meyera Oberndorf, over building residential developments encroaching on the crash zones and runways of the base.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. michelle

    I would ask WHY if this happened in Virginia Beach-the operative word here is BEACH–that pilot didn't take it out over the water? Was he concerned about ejecting over water? There was no other place to ditch other than high density housing? I'm sorry, too many questions and I hope that the pilot is held to account for his actions.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Teresa Yaeger

      To answer your question Michelle the pilot did everything he could to navigate the plane away from a school. The plane was in trouble sparks were coming from the engine and an eyewitness gave his account of what happened...this eyewitness is a former US NAVY SEAL! In fact, he ejected right before the plane crashed causing his parachute to get caught on one of the balcony of another apartment building right there. Neighbors helped get him to safety. There are only TWO reports of injuries one being the pilot. I know all of this because Michelle this happened 20 minutes from me...Before commenting and making judgement get your facts straight! Don't you thing he would have gone 1.3 miles to the ocean if he could? They train constantly and NO PILOT wants to harm anyone in a crash!

      April 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really Jersey

      They WERE heading for the ocean, michelle. Do try turning on the live reports for more information. When they saw they weren't going to make it to the ocean, they dumped the fuel to reduce fatalities. The pilot deserves our hearty congratulations for preventing this from being worse. Witnesses said they heard something wrong with the engines so this is likely a mechanical failure. This kind of thing has happened before, but usually they are able to ditch at sea.
      This flight path was already there BEFORE Virginia Beach stupidly allowed them to build High Density housing there... So go call the former Mayor of Virginia Beach & their city council!

      April 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
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