Whidbey-based plane crashes; 3 reported killed
Herald file photo, 2008
An EA-6B Prowler assigned to "Lancers" of Electronic Attack Squadron 131 launches from the flight deck of aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, July 10, 2008. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans
Associated Press / Stan Dammel
This photo provided by Stan Dammel shows a field near Harrington, where a EA-6B Prowler military airplane from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island crashed Monday. The U.S. Navy said all three crew members aboard the plane died in the crash.
The EA-6B Prowler was reported to have crashed at about 8:45 a.m. Monday, Whidbey Island officials said.
The Navy informed Congress that the wingman of the crashed plane reported that no parachutes were deployed.
"First responders are on the scene and have reported finding partial remains of the mishap aircrew," the Navy informed Congress. "All three onboard are presumed dead."
The identities of the crew were not immediately available.
The Prowler was "engaged in a low-level navigation training mission," the Navy told Congress. Whidbey Island officials said the cause of the accident was under investigation.
NAS Whidbey Island is home to the U.S. Navy's tactical electronic warfare squadrons. Crews from the base, located on Puget Sound, regularly fly across Eastern Washington for training exercises.
"The thoughts and prayers of northwest Washington are with the families of the aircrew who lost their lives today," said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., who represents the Whidbey Island area. "This tragic crash is a painful reminder of the dangerous work that members of the armed services perform every day in service to our nation."
The state House of Representatives observed a moment of silence Monday in response to the crash.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the crew of the plane was serving the nation.
"I know all Washingtonians join me in sending condolences to the crew's families and to their fellow service members," Inslee said.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also said her prayers were with family members of the crew.
The crash occurred in a rural area between the towns of Harrington and Odessa, about 50 miles west of Spokane. Aerial views of the crash site showed a large crater in a farm field, surrounded by blackened vegetation. Much of the plane appeared to have disintegrated on impact.
"You could see smoke and bits of plane in the middle of the field," local resident HaLee Walter told KREM-TV after visiting the crash site.
The Prowler specializes in electronic warfare such as jamming enemy radar and intercepting radio transmissions. It can also be equipped with missiles.
Whidbey Island officials said the plane that crashed was attached to Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-129.
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