What is believed to be a military aircraft has crashed in the area of Birdneck Road just moments ago, according to Virginia Beach Police. (WTKR NewsChannel 3)
(CBS/AP) VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Two Navy pilots ejected from a fighter jet Friday, sending the unmanned plane careening into a Virginia Beach apartment complex and tearing the roof off at least one building that was engulfed in flames, officials said.
Six people, including both pilots, were taken to hospitals, officials said. One of the pilots was in good condition and the other was in fair condition, said Emma Inman, a spokeswoman for the Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. The Navy said both aviators on board the jet ejected before it crashed around noon.
Bruce Nedelka, the Virginia Beach EMS division chief, said that witnesses saw fuel being dumped from the jet before it went down, and that fuel was found on buildings and vehicles in the area.
"By doing so, he mitigated what could have been an absolute massive, massive fireball and fire," Nedelka said. "With all of that jet fuel dumped, it was much less than what it could have been."
Pat Kavanaugh, a retired member of the Virginia Beach rescue team, says that one of the pilots landed on his back porch. He told CBS affiliate WKTR that he helped get the pilot to safety (See interview at left).
"He apologized very much for hitting our complex," said Kavanaugh, who added the pilot was in shock and had lacerations on his face.
The crash happened in the Hampton Roads area, which has a large concentration of military bases, including Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world. Naval Air Station Oceana, where the F/A-18D that crashed was assigned, is located in Virginia Beach.
Live video from WAVY-TV showed dozens of police cars, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles filling the densely populated neighborhood where the plane crashed. Yellow fire hoses snaked through side streets as fire crews poured water on the charred rooftops of brick apartment houses.
Three buildings were destroyed, and two more had significant damage, Virginia Beach fire department spokesman Tim Riley told WVEC-TV.
The fire had been put out, Nedelka said, and now crews were going through the buildings to search for anyone who may have been inside.
As authorities closed roads in the neighborhood, traffic backed up on side streets and on nearby Interstate 264, with slow-moving columns of vehicles bringing drivers to a virtual standstill early Friday afternoon.
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