On Sunday morning, the peaceful tranquility of a Lake Worth, Texas neighborhood was shattered as a United States Navy training jet plummeted to the ground and burst into flames. The jet narrowly missed several houses on a residential street and crashed in three backyards.
The pilots, an instructor, and a student were safely ejected from the plane before the crash. On Monday, the instructor was released from the hospital. The trainee is still in Parkland Hospital in Dallas with serious injuries. Emergency crews responding to the crash scene Sunday said that the trainee was tangled in power lines and had burn injuries consistent with being electrocuted. The second pilot was found nearby in a wooded area with severe but not life-threatening injuries.
“We are very grateful for the first responders and community members who rushed to the pilots’ aid and for the medical staff at both Parkland Hospital and Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth,” the Chief of Naval Air Training said in a statement posted on Facebook Monday.
The Navy has not yet released a cause for the crash of the T-45C Goshawk fighter-trainer. The aircraft was flying out of Carswell AFB in Corpus Christi. The field has been in use for training missions since 1942 without a serious accident. Pilots regularly pass over the Dallas-Fort Worth area while training.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Lake Worth Police Department said that the lack of casualties and serious property damage are “miracles.” Two off-duty Lake Worth firefighters witnessed the crash and were the first responders on the accident scene.
Fire crews said that the crash caused some damage to three homes, but the resulting fire was primarily contained to the aircraft. Photographs taken at the scene by Rick from Keller show significant fire damage and debris in at least one yard, while video footage shows a large plume of smoke rising above the crash scene Sunday morning.
Three residents on the ground were treated for minor injuries. One of the residents may have briefly visited a hospital. A GoFundMe page has been established for Wade and Cheryl Wright, who was renting one of the homes that were damaged. According to the page, Wade is in an ICU and has been for two months. Chris Wright, Wade’s son, organized the page. As of Tuesday afternoon, the family has raised $3,980 with a goal of $9,500 to replace items lost in the fire.
Power to 1,500 residents was lost due to the crash, but it has been restored as of Tuesday. The three houses affected by the crash are not habitable. In addition, smoke and debris damage affects several other homes in the area.
The training aircraft involved in the crash has been in use since 1997. In 2017, all T-45C aircraft were grounded following more than 100 reports of oxygen supply system failures that can lead to hypoxia, a condition in which the brain shuts down due to not having enough oxygen. The Navy replaced several systems on all affected aircraft before returning the platform to service.