Recovery efforts complete for downed F-35 jet in Williamsburg County

The cleanup has officially ended in Williamsburg County at the site where a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning jet crashed last month.
Published: Oct. 11, 2023 at 2:06 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2023 at 6:37 PM EDT
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WILLIAMSBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The cleanup has officially ended in Williamsburg County at the site where a Marine Corps F-35B Lightning jet crashed last month.

The collaborative efforts of the U.S. Navy Region Southeast On-Scene Coordinator team, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing to recover the wreckage of the aircraft and clean up any environmental impacts from the crash have concluded, Navy On-Scene Coordinator Sarah Murdagh said Wednesday.

Members of the Navy Region Southeast On-Scene Coordinator program, based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, began working Sept. 19 to recover the aircraft wreckage and perform environmental remediation of the area.

The jet’s pilot safely ejected from the jet on the afternoon of Sept. 17 after what Joint Base Charleston called a “mishap.” North Charleston Police responded to a home in the 6900 block of South Kenwood Drive where the pilot had been reported, an incident report states. The report states the 48-year-old pilot was taken from the scene for treatment.

Authorities found the debris field late on Sept. 18 afternoon in rural Williamsburg County, approximately 80 miles away from where the pilot landed, though information from witnesses in the area suggests the plane crashed within about an hour of the pilot’s ejection.

“After the wreckage was securely moved to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, our focus shifted to environmental cleanup and remediation of the land,” Murtagh said.

She said the goal is for the affected area to be free of contaminants from the wreckage.

“Soil sampling confirms the effectiveness of our cleanup efforts,” Murtagh said. “While the natural vegetation may take some time to regrow, we mitigate the impacts by helping the land recover as quickly as feasible.”

Environmental remediation of the area also included removal of affected crops, underbrush, and trees in order to remove the wreckage and limit further environmental impacts.