By Susanna Ray
One person in a three-member aircrew was injured this afternoon when an EA-6B Prowler crashed near Forks, the Navy said. The search for the plane will probably be called off until daylight.
The crew member suffered a possible broken leg and was taken by ambulance to Olympic Memorial Hospital in Port Angeles. The other two were ambulatory and able to walk to a rescue helicopter that was taking them back to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, where they are based, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Linier.
Lt. Kim Marks, spokeswoman for Navy Region Northwest, said Navy controllers lost contact with the jet at about 1:30 p.m. while it was flying a training mission over the Olympic Mountains. It had two instructors and one student aboard.
The Coast Guard and Navy both sent helicopters to the scene and the three were found at about 3 p.m. along Highway 101 just south of the Klahowya Campground in the Olympic National Forest, said Ken Eldredge, a forest spokesman. The location is about 18 miles inland of Forks in a heavily wooded area of rolling foothills and ridges. The plane’s exact location wasn’t known, and foggy conditions and deepening dusk were hampering the search this afternoon, Eldredge added.
“We’ve got people on the ground looking for it right now, but the weather is hindering things,” he said. “It’s not like we’re searching for people and bodies, so they’ll probably stop the ground search until daylight tomorrow.”
Prowlers are radar-jamming jets that normally carry a crew of four — one pilot and three crew members — and are used to provide air protection for fighter jets. All the Navy’s Prowlers are based at the naval air station in Oak Harbor.
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