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'It could have been a lot worse': Instructor pilot released from hospital after jet crashes in Lake Worth neighborhood

Two people, an instructor and a student, were ejected from the aircraft, officials confirmed.

LAKE WORTH, Texas — This is a developing story and will be updated.

Two people were hurt after a Navy aircraft crashed in Lake Worth Sunday morning about two miles northeast of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, officials said. One person remains in stable but serious condition at a hospital, and the other person was released from the hospital Monday, officials said.

The two pilots were ejected from the aircraft in a residential area on the 4000 block of Tejas Trail around 11 a.m. Sunday, Lake Worth Police Chief JT Manoushagian confirmed to WFAA. An Incident Page Network alert about the crash was sent at 11:02 a.m.

Both pilots were hurt, seriously enough to be taken to local hospitals, MedStar officials told WFAA. 

On Monday, the U.S. Navy said that the instructor who was involved in the crash was released from the hospital. 

On Tuesday, officials said the student pilot is in stable but serious condition. He is receiving treatment for his injuries, the Navy said. He will remain at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing.

One of the pilot's parachutes got tangled in a power line, Manoushagian said during a news conference. That pilot was electrocuted by the power lines. 

"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 Navy said in a statement.

Two off-duty Fort Worth firefighters saw the crash happen and immediately responded, officials said. They were first on the scene to help the pilots, and were able to untangle the pilot trapped in the electric lines with the help of a police officer.

"Although badly burnt, the pilot was conscious, alert and breathing," a news release from Lake Worth police said.

The other pilot was found in the neighborhood near the crash in a wooded area. He was seriously injured but is expected to survive, Lake Worth officials said.

Manoushagian said the aircraft was a training jet, though he was not sure what kind of model, nor what the purpose of their mission was. The plane had a traditional ejection seat where the canopy would pop off before the pilots were ejected.

Officials with the Department of Defense later told WFAA the plane was a Navy T-45C Goshawk jet trainer aircraft. An instructor pilot and a student naval aviator were aboard the jet, which was assigned to Training Air Wing 2 at Naval Air Station Kingsville.

The instructor pilot is stable, Department of Defense officials said, while they are unsure of the student naval aviator's condition. They said as of 1:45 p.m. the student was alive and receiving treatment. A Sunday night statement from the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) said the student's injuries were serious, but they were expected to survive.

"The pilots were conducting a routine training flight that originated from Corpus Christi International Airport," Rear Adm. Robert D. Westendorff, the chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) told WFAA in a statement. "The cause of the crash is unknown. The safety team is en-route for damage assessment."

'Could have been a lot worse'

The plane went down in a backyard, and fortunately, no one on the ground was seriously injured, per MedStar officials. 

I can not believe we just saw a plane crash into the neighborhood in lake worth! Please pray for the people that not...

Posted by Chasity Benne on Sunday, September 19, 2021

Lake Worth Fire Chief Ryan Arthur said three homes were damaged. Fort Worth fire officials said three people in the homes had minor injuries but were treated at the scene. The displaced residents were getting help from the Red Cross.

"It could have been a lot worse" if the plane had directly crashed into a home, Arthur said Sunday afternoon. The plane itself caught fire, but it was largely contained, he added. Debris caused most of the damage to the surrounding homes.

"Our hearts go out to the pilots and their families," the police chief added during the news conference. "This is the day that you dread [as a pilot]."

Both chiefs are veterans and said their community, which has a strong military presence, will be very affected by the crash.

DVIDS said the Navy is fully cooperating with local authorities.

Homes evacuated, more than 1,000 without power Sunday afternoon

Homes were evacuated in the area for a time, Manoushagian said. Officials are asking residents not to touch any debris they find in the area, as it may be dangerous. If they see something, they should call the non-emergency police line at 817-237-1224.

Military representatives from NAS JRB Fort Worth, the Air Force, Navy and NCIS are working to piece together what happened, the chiefs explained. The debris will help them "paint of a picture" of that. Tucker added that an investigation is underway and updates will be provided as the situation develops. 

About 1,300 customers were without power in the area Sunday morning, Oncor officials told WFAA. They were working with first responders to know when they can access the area. 

At least one GoFundMe has already been set up in the wake of the crash for the family of one of the houses that were damaged.

Arthur added that power would likely not be restored to about a 2- to 3-block radius for some time — possibly several days — as officials need to first remove debris and wreckage from the area. That could affect about 60 to 70 people in the area, Arthur estimated. About 44 homes in the area were without power as of 3 p.m. Oncor does not have an estimated time of restoration.

A middle school that is about a block away should be able to operate Monday as normal, Manoushagian added.

Arthur said the department was prepared to handle a potential downed military aircraft. It's part of their regular training due to the proximity of the base, but he said such an incident has not happened before during his time with the department. 

Officials added that the area where the plane went down had previously been identified by the military as a potential accident zone.

Lake Worth officials gave a live news update Sunday afternoon. Watch it below: