New details emerge slowly after crash of F-35 jet
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A North Charleston Police report and a military briefing have provided only a few new details about a pilot who ejected from a jet Sunday afternoon.
The pilot, whose name has not been released, safely ejected from a Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort F-35B Lightning II jet from the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, according to public affairs specialist Jeremy Huggins.
Col. Mark Bortnem, the commanding officer of MCAS Beaufort, said during a media briefing on Tuesday that the pilot of the aircraft ejected at approximately 1:30 p.m.
North Charleston Police responded at 1:46 p.m. Sunday to a home in the 6900 block of South Kenwood Drive where the pilot had been reported, an incident report states.
Police, the North Charleston Fire Department and Charleston County EMS responded to the scene. The report states the 48-year-old pilot was taken from the scene for treatment but the facility was redacted. The report does not list the pilot’s gender and does not state whether he or she was conscious at the time.
Joint Base Charleston Security Forces arrived at the scene and took custody of the pilot’s parachute and “all other military equipment,” the report states.
At the time, the search was underway for the pilot’s aircraft and cockpit seat.
Witnesses who live within a mile or so of the debris field reported hearing what might have been the plane crashing into a wooded area crash sometime between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday, but they did not see any sign of a crash site.
Authorities found the debris field late Monday afternoon in rural Williamsburg County, approximately 80 miles away from where the pilot landed. Base officials confirmed at approximately 6 p.m. Monday that the debris field had been located.
The military has not provided details on what led the pilot to eject from the aircraft. Joint Base Charleston called the incident a “mishap.”
During Tuesday’s call, Bortnem said the base has been flying planes in the area for the past 10 years and praised the safety record of the aircraft.
He said they were now examining the wreckage and that the area where the jet went down has been marked off. He asked people to continue avoiding the area.
Williamsburg County Sheriff’s spokesperson Jalisa Brown said deputies were assisting with traffic control in the area of Old Georgetown Road. Brown said wreckage from the plane was located in a wooded area near there and an “extensive debris field exists.”
The base did not provide a specific area within Williamsburg County where the debris field was spotted but asked members of the community to avoid the area as the recovery team secured the debris field.
Teams from Joint Base Charleston, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing out of MCAS Cherry Point, Navy Region Southeast, the FAA, the Civil Air Patrol, as well as local, county, and state law enforcement across South Carolina, had been working together to locate the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B.
Bortnem said he expected the investigation could take several months.
He provided no further details and did not take questions from the media during the briefing.
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