Valley News -

Three hospitalized after fighter jet crash near March Air Base

 

Last updated 5/17/2019 at 5:46pm

Update: Friday, May 17, 5:40pm

MORENO VALLEY – An investigation was continuing today into the crash of an armed F-16 Fighting Falcon that plunged into a warehouse just west of March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley, injuring the pilot and a dozen people at the crash site.

The jet, attached to the 114th Fighter Wing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, went down about 3:45 p.m. Thursday, going through the roof of the See Water Inc. warehouse at 22220 Opportunity Way, near Meridian Parkway, in the Arnold Heights neighborhood, just off of Interstate 215.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Col. Thomas McNamara, vice commander of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March, would not specify the type of weapons on board the fighter aircraft, saying only that it was loaded with a "standard armament'' package.

F-16s, which have been used in every U.S. military conflict since the first Gulf War, are capable of carrying air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as 20mm cannons.

McNamara said the jet's ordnance had been secured and would be safely disposed of at an undisclosed location. ABC7 broadcast images suggesting the armaments may been transported to an undeveloped portion of the Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center in Riverside, where they were possibly going to be neutralized under ground.

Base officials issued a warning on social media that people in the area might hear some loud blasts as the materials are disposed of. Neither the colonel nor any other base representative offered an explanation or speculation as to why the F-16 went down, including the possibility of fuel starvation. There was no post-crash fire.

The pilot was returning from a homeland security mission involving West Coast patrols, under the direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, according to military officials.

The flight officer, whose name was not released, walked away after

parachuting onto the end of Runway 32 and was taken to a hospital for examination, according to March officials. He did not require hospitalization.

Riverside University Health System doctors said during a briefing near the air base Friday afternoon that 12 other patients, including several first responders, were brought to Riverside University Medical Center in Moreno Valley from the crash scene for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. Three of those individuals were admitted to the hospital.

"It was a good outcome from an unexpected incident,'' said RUHS spokeswoman Leah Patterson.

The doctors said several patients were treated for potential contamination exposure, though nothing else was disclosed for privacy protection.

Both sides of I-215 were closed within an hour of the F-16 going down, and the entire freeway remained closed in the area of the crash Friday afternoon, impacting commuters south into the Temecula Valley and north into San Bernardino. A California Highway Patrol sergeant indicated the 215 may be gradually reopened before nightfall.

Metrolink tracks paralleling the freeway were also closed, meaning no service on the Perris Valley Line. However, bus service was being offered between Moreno Valley and downtown Perris, according to the Riverside Transit Agency.

Fire department battalion chiefs identified what they believed to be ordnance during an immediate post-crash search of the warehouse Thursday, prompting the freeway closure and evacuations of surrounding buildings, according to reports from the scene.

The F-16 punched a large hole in the roof of the 500,000-square-foot building, triggering the on-site sprinkler system, according to the fire department.

The structure is stacked with plastic pipes, aluminum awnings and other materials, according to the CHP, which received the 911 calls.

In Riverside, Meridian Parkway between Alessandro and Van Buren Boulevards, and Van Buren Boulevard between Village West Drive and I-215, were closed while the investigation and wreckage recovery continued.

The 452nd Air Mobility Wing is an Air Force Reserve component that utilizes mammoth C-17 transports, KC-135 refueling tankers and C-130 transports. Fighter jets do not regularly appear in March's airspace.

The last tactical jet crash at the base occurred in 1989, when it was still an active-duty Air Force installation. That accident caused a fatality.

Aftermath of fighter jet crash near March Air Base felt throughout region

Update: Friday, May 17, 3:50 P.M.

MORENO VALLEY – An investigation was continuing today into the crash of an armed F-16 Fighting Falcon that plunged into a warehouse just west of March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley, injuring the pilot and a dozen people at the crash site.

Col. Thomas McNamara, vice commander of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve Base, has confirmed that the F-16 that crashed into a warehouse yesterday was carrying a "standard armament'' package, although he's not providing specifics of what types of weaponry was aboard. He also confirms that the armaments have been recovered from the jet.

The jet, attached to the 114th Fighter Wing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, went down about 3:45 p.m. Thursday, going through the roof of the See Water Inc. warehouse at 22220 Opportunity Way, near Meridian Parkway, in the Arnold Heights neighborhood, just off of Interstate 215.

Both sides of the freeway were closed within an hour of the F-16 going down, and the entire freeway remained closed in the area of the crash Friday, impacting commuters south into the Temecula Valley and north into San Bernardino. The California Highway Patrol indicated the 215 may be gradually reopened sometime Friday afternoon.

Metrolink tracks paralleling the freeway were also closed, meaning no

service on the Perris Valley Line Friday. However, bus service was being offered between Moreno Valley and downtown Perris, according to the Riverside Transit Agency.

The F-16 pilot, who was on a training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, walked away after parachuting onto the end of Runway 32 and was taken to a hospital for examination, according to March officials. He did not require hospitalization.

March spokeswoman Linda Welz said 12 people in or around the warehouse were treated for minor injuries. They were all released, officials said.

During a briefing near the crash scene Friday morning, officials declined to discuss specifics regarding the crash investigation, and they would not confirm the armaments aboard the F-16, which is capable of carrying air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as a 20mm cannon.

Fire department battalion chiefs identified what they believed to be ordnance during an immediate post-crash search of the warehouse Thursday, prompting the freeway closure and evacuations of surrounding buildings, according to reports from the scene.

An unnamed Defense Department official told ABC News "was flying with a standard armament configuration as part of its Operation Noble Eagle commitments,'' a reference to a national homeland security program. The officials said the armaments have been "secured and will be disposed of in accordance with Air Force policies and regulations.''

The F-16 punched a large hole in the roof of the 500,000-square-foot building, triggering the on-site sprinkler system, according to the fire department. The warehouse did not catch fire.

The structure is stacked with plastic pipes, aluminum awnings and other materials, according to the CHP, which received the 911 calls.

"Anything that may be in (the warehouse) is a concern, obviously not just to (firefighters), but to the military,'' Riverside County Fire Department Capt. Fernando Herrera said Thursday. "So we're going to take whatever precautions are necessary.''

Firefighters and military personnel re-entered the building around 10 p.m. Thursday to assess the danger, but nothing was disclosed.

In Riverside, Meridian Parkway between Alessandro and Van Buren Boulevards, and Van Buren Boulevard between Village West Drive and I-215, were closed while the investigation and wreckage recovery continued.

March is home to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, an Air Force Reserve component that utilizes mammoth C-17 transports, KC-135 refueling tankers and C-130 transports.

Fighter jets are a rare sight at the base.

The last tactical jet crash at March occurred in 1989, when it was still an active-duty Air Force installation. That accident caused a fatality.

Investigation launched into crash of fighter jet from March Air Reserve Base

MORENO VALLEY - An investigation was underway this morning into the crash of an F-16 Fighting Falcon into a warehouse just west of March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley on Thursday, May 16, injuring the pilot and 12 people on the ground.

The F-16, attached to the 114th Fighter Wing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, went down about 3:45 p.m. Thursday and crashed into the See Water Inc. warehouse at 22220 Opportunity Way, near Meridian Parkway, in the Arnold Heights neighborhood just off of Interstate 215, authorities said.

According to multiple county and law enforcement agencies, road closures and evacuations remained in place in the area around the aircraft crash as of 6:30 a.m., including I-215 which remained closed in both directions.

In Riverside, Meridian Parkway between Alessandro and Van Buren Boulevards and Van Buren Boulevard between Village West Drive and Interstate 215 were closed while the investigation and wreckage recovery continued, the Riverside Police Department said Thursday evening. The Metrolink tracks paralleling the freeway were also closed, as well as its tracks between Moreno Valley and downtown Perris. Bus service was being offered to downtown Perris and South Perris stations.

The pilot, who was on a training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, walked away after parachuting onto the end of Runway 32 and was taken to a hospital for examination, according to the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Twelve people were treated at the scene and taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

The F-16 punched a huge hole in the roof of the 500,000-square-foot building, causing a fire that triggered the on-site sprinkler system, which contained the flames, according to fire officials.

The structure is stacked with plastic pipes, aluminum awnings and other materials, according to the CHP, which received the 911 calls.

Base officials would not say if the F-16 was carrying ordnance.

"I can't, at this time, but will provide those details as they become available,'' USAFR Col. Melissa Coburn said at a Thursday evening news conference.

Fire officials took a cautious approach to the incident.

"Anything that may be in (the warehouse) is a concern, obviously not just to (firefighters), but to the military,'' Riverside County Fire Department Capt. Fernando Herrera said. "So we're going to take whatever precautions are necessary.''

Firefighters and military personnel re-entered the building around 10 p.m. to assess the danger, but no update was provided.

The California Highway Patrol shut down both sides of Interstate 215 for public safety, in case of explosions.

March is home to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, an Air Force Reserve component that utilizes mammoth C-17 transports, KC-135 refueling tankers and C-130 transports.

Fighter jets are a rare sight at the base.

The last tactical jet crash at March occurred in 1989, when it wasstill an active-duty Air Force installation. That accident caused a fatality.

 

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