Navy: Three dead in plane crash

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SPOKANE — An aircraft from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island crashed in Eastern Washington on Monday morning, and all three crew members on board died, Navy authorities said.

The E/A-6B Prowler was reported to have crashed at about 8:45 a.m. on Monday, Whidbey Island officials said.

The Navy informed Congress that the wingman of the crashed plane reported that no parachutes were deployed.

The identities of the crew were not immediately available. Whidbey Island officials said the cause of the accident was under investigation.

NAS Whidbey Island is home to the U.S. Navy’s tactical electronic warfare squadrons. Crews from the base, located on Puget Sound, regularly fly across the region for training exercises.

Another Prowler crashed in northern Umatilla County in March 2006, but crew members were able to eject from the aircraft and survived.

“The thoughts and prayers of northwest Washington are with the families of the aircrew who lost their lives today,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., who represents the Whidbey Island area. “This tragic crash is a painful reminder of the dangerous work that members of the armed services perform every day in service to our nation.”

The crash occurred in a rural area between the towns of Harrington and Odessa, about 50 miles west of Spokane. Aerial views of the crash site showed a large crater in a farm field, surrounded by blackened vegetation. Much of the plane appeared to have disintegrated on impact.

The Prowler specializes in electronic warfare such as jamming enemy radar and intercepting radio transmissions. It can also be equipped with missiles.

Whidbey Island officials said the plane that crashed was attached to Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-129.

The Union-Bulletin contributed to this story.

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