ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — One person died and two others were injured after a U.S. Navy E2-D Hawkeye crashed just north of Chincoteague Island in Accomack County on Wednesday night, according to military officials.
Lt. Cmdr. Rob Myers, a public affairs officer with Naval Air Force Atlantic, said the plane was doing a routine exercise when it went down around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Three people were on board in total. Two injured people were rescued and one was found dead in the aircraft, Myers said.
Two crewmembers have injuries that aren’t considered life-threatening. They were rescued by Maryland State Police and transported to Wallops Island for treatment. They remain in the hospital.
The Worcester County Fire Department Dive Team found the third crew member deceased in the aircraft.
The name of the deceased crew member will be released once the next of kin is notified.
“This is a tremendous loss for both our squadron and for the family and friends of our fallen service member,” said Cmdr. Martin Fentress Jr., Commanding Officer of VAW-120. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss and are committed to determining the cause of this incident.”
The plane is based out of Naval Station Norfolk and assigned to an East Coast Airborne Command and Control Squadron.
The Hawkeye surveillance plane is a key part of carrier groups.
“It has a very large radar,” said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk), a retired Navy commander. “It’s part of the carrier strike group to provide situational awareness for all the other aircraft and ships.”
“I think this reminds us that everything the Navy does, day in and day out, whether it’s training or on the front lines is inherently dangerous. So we mourn the loss of one sailor, and hope for the speedy recovery of the two others,” Luria said.
Coast Guard Mid-Atlantic region confirmed with WAVY that crews responded to a downed aircraft in the water near Wildcat Marsh, just north of the town of Chincoteague, which is just south of the Maryland state line.
Ryan Whittington, a spokesman for Maryland’s Ocean City Fire Department, told The Associated Press that it and other agencies were on the scene after the plane went down in Chincoteague Bay near the community of Stockton. Whittington said a volunteer fire department in Stockton was the first to respond.
The Coast Guard launched a helicopter from a station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and a boat from Chincoteague.
NASA’s emergency response crews received a report of a Navy aircraft down near Wallops Island and responded around 7:45 p.m., NASA officials told WAVY.
WAVY’s sister station WRIC in Richmond said the Coast Guard told them two people were accounted for with broken legs. The third person was last seen strapped in for flight and went down with the plane, which was partially submerged.
On Thursday afternoon, the Naval Airforce Atlantic PR team announced that salvage planning efforts are underway for the Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued this statement about the tragic crash:
“Last night, the First Lady and I were devastated to learn that a Navy E-2D aircraft operating out of Naval Air Station Norfolk crashed in the vicinity of Chincoteague, Virginia. We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our great Navy service members in Virginia. Our hearts go out to the Naval crew members, their families as well as the members of Naval Air Force Atlantic. This serves as a reminder that our great servicemen and women risk their lives every day to serve our country.”
Officials add that the aircraft’s fuel tanks remain intact and are no concern for public health.
The investigation is ongoing.
10 On Your Side is working to learn more. Stay with WAVY.com for updates.