Cause of crash unknown, Navy officials said
WASHINGTON — A U.S. Navy fighter jet crashed Wednesday off the coast of Key West, Florida, killing its two crew members.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet was on approach to land at a naval air station around 4:30 p.m. EDT when it crashed into shallow water about a mile east of the runway.
Both the pilot and weapons system officer ejected and were recovered, but U.S. Naval Air Forces reported late Wednesday night that both had died. Their names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The cause of the crash is also under investigation.
Capt. Barbie Wilson of Knee Deep Charters witnessed the crash from her pickup truck on a road near Key West.
"It happened so fast, like something out of a movie. I couldn't believe it," Wilson told the Key West Citizen. She said she saw jet flying straight, but very low.
"Then it suddenly went sideways and I heard a pop, like an explosion and I saw flames. Then it flipped and just dropped," Wilson said.
The aircraft crew is based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The Super Hornet is a twin-engine fighter jet that is larger than the single-seat F/A-18 Hornet.
President Donald Trump has tweeted his condolences, and Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami emailed his condolences to the victims' families.