Thursday, March 31, 2016

Boeing F/A 18E Super Hornet: Fatal accident occurred March 30, 2016 at Naval Air Station Lemoore

REGIONAL (KRON) — Two San Jose residents were killed in a car crash at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Kings County following a pursuit with California Highway Patrol officers that started late Wednesday evening.

The two were identified as Anthony Castillo, 29, and Melissa Miller, 36, according to the Kings County Sheriff’s Office.

Castillo was driving a 1997 purple Grand Cherokee seen by CHP officers on the shoulder of Jackson Avenue, west of state Highway 41, at about 11:40 p.m. on Wednesday, CHP Officer John Tyler said.

The officers in a patrol car pulled up behind the Jeep to check on whoever was inside, but Castillo erratically drove away, Tyler said.

Castillo continued west on Jackson Avenue, ran past a stop sign at Avenal Cutoff Road and went onto eastbound state Highway 198.

The officers saw the suspect vehicle briefly travel the wrong way on the freeway, then cross the center divide, according to Tyler.

Officers lost sigh of the Jeep, but soon after saw it east of Enterprise Avenue and continued their pursuit.

Castillo drove to Reeves Bypass before he entered the operations side of the air station, where officers lost track of the Jeep, according to Tyler.

A CHP helicopter crew monitored the suspect vehicle and relayed its location to officers on the ground.

The Jeep then crashed into the back of a parked F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter aircraft, according to Tyler.

Miller, a passenger in the Jeep, was pronounced dead at the scene. Castillo was transported to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno, where he succumbed to his injuries.

Security personnel at the air station responded to the pursuit when the Jeep entered the operations area and helped the CHP helicopter crew from its air traffic control tower, air station spokesperson, Marcelo Calero, said.

Investigators have not determined if drugs or alcohol played a factor in this incident.

LEMOORE, Calif. -- A California Highway Patrol pursuit ended with the suspects ramming through the gate and into a fighter jet at Naval Air Station Lemoore, killing the driver and a passenger, military officials said.

The incident started around 4 a.m. Thursday when officers spotted a wrong-way driver on State Route 198 south of Fresno and heading toward NAS Lemoore, authorities said.

CHP chased the vehicle as it crashed through the south fence of the airfield and then crashed into an FA-18E Super Hornet on the south side of the naval base.

The passenger died at the scene. The driver died at a hospital. Their identities were not immediately released.

Officials say the car hit the jet's horizontal stabilizer but have not detailed the damage.

Naval Air Station, Lemoore, built in 1961, has two runways and hosts four Carrier Air Wings.

Story,  video and photo gallery:

A wrong-way driver leading authorities on a high-speed chase crashed through a gate and into a fighter jet at a central California naval base, killing himself and a passenger, authorities said Thursday.

The Navy base does not appear to be an intended target, and the man and woman who died were not affiliated with the military, said Capt. Monty Ashliman, commander at Naval Air Station Lemoore. He said authorities are investigating what started the chase and how the driver broke through the secured gate.

"Regardless of procedures we have in place, something went wrong and we had a tragic accident," Ashliman said. "We have got to figure out a way to prevent that from happening in the future."

Authorities say the chase began off the base late Wednesday, when a California Highway Patrol officer stopped to check on a Jeep Grand Cherokee parked on the roadside. The driver sped off, driving erratically and going the wrong way at one point on highway south of Fresno.

The CHP does not know why the SUV fled, Lt. Dave Knoff said.

The driver eventually left State Route 198, smashed through a gate at the base and hit the FA-18E Super Hornet parked about 7 miles inside the base, Ashliman said.

He said the chase lasted about 15 minutes.

The passenger died at the scene, and the driver died at a hospital. Authorities have not released their identities.

The SUV hit the jet's horizontal stabilizer, but officials have not detailed the damage. The jet will be fully inspected before it takes flight again.

Naval Air Station Lemoore, built in 1961, has two runways and hosts four Carrier Air Wings.

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