The F/A-18 Super Hornet was approaching land at the naval air station at about 4:30 p.m.
While both the pilot and weapons-system officer ejected and were recovered, Navy officials said late Wednesday that both had died. "The jet was on a training flight" and that the cause of the accident is still under investigation. Later in the day, the Navy released the following statement regarding the incident and news of the aviators' deaths. "I couldn't believe it", Wilson told the Key West Citizen.
Barbie Wilson, who lives nearby and witnessed the crash, said she "saw fire" and "then [the jet] just dropped". The crew members were part of the Strike Fighter Squadron 213 (VFA-213) Blacklions, which is now serving on the carrier George H.W. Bush.
As of Thursday, the jet remains in the water at the site of the crash. The jets had flown from Lemoore Naval Air Station in California, which is about an hour south of Fresno, on a routine training mission.
"We need to ensure we are providing our service members the resources they need to maintain the highest readiness levels - from equipment to proficiency".
The identities of the crew members were withheld until their families could be notified. The other two fatalities were in 2011. One accident occurred in 2016.
Officials said the jet is still in the ocean and will remain there until a team arrives to carry out a full investigation into what happened.