By Carol Vaughn and Connie Morrison —
A Navy aircraft crashed Monday afternoon in a soybean field off Mason Road in Bloxom, triggering a massive emergency response.
The crash was reported around 4:05 p.m.
The plane was a Navy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, the kind that practices touch-and-go operations at NASA Wallops Flight Facility.
The aircraft was assigned to Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW) 120 Fleet Replacement Squadron on board Naval Station Norfolk, according to a statement from Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs in Norfolk quoted in a U.S. Naval Institute News report.
At the time of the crash, the aircraft was conducting a training flight, according to the statement, which went on to say initial reports indicated no structures or people on the ground were damaged or injured.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, according to the statement.
Four people, two pilots and two crew members, who parachuted safely out of the aircraft, had been located by first responders by around 4:19, according to scanner reports. They were undergoing medical evaluation, Cmdr. Jennifer Cragg told USNI News Monday.
The Hawkeye, assigned to the “Greyhawks” of Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW) 120 Fleet Replacement Squadron, left Chambers Field at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Monday for the training mission before the crash, according to the U.S. Naval Institute News report.
Firefighters from Bloxom and Wallops fire departments had the blaze at the crash site mostly extinguished by around 4:30 p.m.
Mason Road resident Robyn Dattner was among those who saw the crash happen.
“I was out here doing yardwork and all of the sudden I see something go down right over there…black smoke, flames. …Then all of a sudden I just smelled the fumes,” she said, adding, “It was like a big, black cloud.”
Dattner called the county to report the crash.
Robert Williams, also of Mason Road, said he saw the smoke rising from the crash as he was driving home from Parksley.
Williams said the crash was the second major emergency to happen in the immediate area within weeks, after a house on Mason Road caught fire earlier this summer.