Three believed dead after military jet crashes in Washington state
LINCOLN COUNTY, Wash. (NBC News) - A military jet on a routine training mission crashed Monday in eastern Washington, the Defense Department told NBC News.
Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers said three people were believed dead.
Pentagon officials told NBC News three people were on board but that they didn't immediately know their conditions.
The jet, a Northrop-Grumman EA-6B Prowler, can accommodate two to four people. It's flown by the Navy and the Marine Corps and specializes in jamming enemy radar and intercepting radio transmissions.
The plane crashed near the town of Harrington, about 50 miles southwest of Spokane, about 8:45 a.m. (11:45 a.m. ET), the Navy and local media reported. It was flying out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, in western Washington north of Seattle, the Navy confirmed.
Witnesses told NBC station KHQ of Spokane that they saw a large black plume of smoke. One described it as a black mushroom cloud that could be seen as far away as Davenport, about 25 miles away.
The owner of the wheat field where the plane crashed told KHQ that when he arrived at the scene, there were no signs of a parachute ejection.
Stan Dammel, manager of Odessa Municipal Airport, told the Spokesman-Review newspaper of Spokane that the crash scene "looked like an ink spot down there."