VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WWBT) -- The cleanup is underway in Virginia Beach after an F-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed down into a senior citizen apartment complex. Fire officials confirm Saturday morning that all residents of the complex have been accounted for. At this time, only one of the injured -- one of the two pilots -- remains in the hospital.
The jet fell from the sky around noon Friday, after a mechanical failure during a training mission. It happened not far from Naval Air Station Oceana, just off the coast and home to the Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic.
There is plenty of damage, but very few people hurt, and miraculously, no one killed. And after seeing the damage and considering what could have gone wrong, this community is counting their blessings that this tragedy was not much worse.
The scene in the moments after the jet crashed to the ground was chaotic. The flames and aftermath captured on mobile phones, the result of something no one expected.
"I looked up, and I could see the plane go straight up with no sound of engines," said a witness. "Then, I seen it pitch over and go down."
The pilot was a trainee, his co-pilot an experienced instructor. They were facing a situation with only one option.
"The initial indications are that the aircraft suffered a catastrophic mechanical function," said Capt. Mark Weisgerber, the Deputy Commander of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic.
Both pilots ejected safely to the ground. One landed near Pat Kavanaugh's home.
"He was in shock, but I told him not to worry," said Kavanaugh. "You'll be fine and we will get you as fast as we can."
Not only were the pilots ok, but so were the majority of the residents of the Mayfair Mews, an apartment complex made up of mostly seniors. Despite five buildings being destroyed there were only four people hospitalized, none with serious injuries.
"To sit back and to see how the navy and the city have worked together through this tragic situation is very very impressive," said Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.
Into the night, Virginia Beach fire continued to go door to door, making 100 percent sure every person was accounted for.
The Navy is now launching a full scale investigation into what went wrong. The specifics of which, they were careful not to reveal.
"We will very thoroughly determine what happened here today," said Capt. Weisgerber.
That investigation will include the review of person who took part in that training mission, including the student, his instructor and the naval staff on the ground.
Meanwhile this community, so accustom to the roar of jet engines, begins to clean up from what one left behind.
Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.
WWBT-TV NBC 12
P.O. Box 12
On Your Side
Video and Pics