Report: Blue Angels Jet Crashes

BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) - A Navy Blue Angel jet crashed during an air show Saturday, plunging into a neighborhood of small homes and trailers and killing the pilot, the county coroner said.

Witnesses said the planes were flying in formation during the show at the Marine Corps Air Station and one dropped below the trees and crashed, sending up clouds of smoke.

At least one home was on fire.

Raymond Voegeli, a plumber, was backing out of a driveway when the plane ripped through a grove of pine trees, dousing his truck in flames and debris. He said wreckage hit "plenty of houses and mobile homes."

"It was just a big fireball coming at me," said Voegeli, 37. "It was just taking pine trees and just clipping them."

County Coroner Curt Copeland said the pilot was killed, but did not release an identification. Copeland said there was a lot of debris at the crash site and described the scene as horrific.

John Sauls, who lives near the crash site, said the planes were banking back and forth before one disappeared, and a plume of smoke shot up.

"It's one of those surreal moments when you go, 'No, I didn't just see
what I saw,'" Sauls said.

At the Blue Angels command headquarters at Pensacola Naval Air Station the petty officer on duty said he "had no comment at this time."

The phone rang unanswered at the Marine base.

More than 100,000 were expected to attend the air show and the Blue Angels were the main attraction.

The elite aerial-demonstration team, which is based at Pensacola Naval Air Station, recently celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Beaufort is about 35 miles northwest of Hilton Head Island.


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