Peninsula Prowler crash site sealed

Herald staff

FORKS – U.S. Navy security forces have cordoned off the site of an EA-6B crash in a remote and rugged area of Olympic National Forest following Thursday’s crash of the Prowler during a training flight, a Navy spokesman said Friday.

Security personnel from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station were guarding the mountainous area pending an investigation into the cause of the crash, which forced all three airmen to parachute to safety. One airman was injured.

The crash occurred northeast of Forks.

The area is “extremely difficult to access, from what I understand,” said Chief Brian O’Rourke, spokesman for West Coast naval air units in San Diego, Calif. “The site cannot be disturbed during the course of the investigation.”

The injured flier, who was taken to a hospital in Port Angeles, was expected to be released Friday, but O’Rourke could not confirm if that happened. The two others were flown directly to Whidbey Island.

The names of the three fliers will not be released for security reasons, he added.

It’s “way too early to speculate” what went wrong or when the investigation will be completed, he added.

The Prowler’s crew lost contact with the naval air station while on a routine training mission. Navy and Coast Guard helicopters participated in the rescue.

Kim Marks, spokeswoman for Navy Region Northwest, said the plane was from VAQ-129, an electronics warfare training squadron, and had two instructors and one student on board.

The Prowlers are used in combat to jam enemy radar. The Whidbey base has the Navy’s only Prowler squadrons.

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