Navy begins compensation after Virginia Beach jet crash

Posted at 7:14 AM, Apr 09, 2012

By the CNN Wire Staff

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (CNN) — The U.S. Navy will be begin cutting compensation checks as early as Monday to victims of last week’s fiery crash of a fighter jet into apartment buildings in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

“We are committed to doing the right thing to address the needs of these families, who through no fault of their own have endured an incredible hardship,” said Rear Adm. Tim Alexander, commander of the Navy’s Mid-Atlantic region. “We owe it to everyone affected by Friday’s accident to help them get their life back together.”

Initial payments will begin at $2,300 per person to cover immediate needs, such as housing, meals, and clothing. The amount will increase for additional family members.

Counseling and legal services also will be available, Alexander said.

Residents who completed claims by Saturday could receive payments by Monday.

The F/A-18 fighter jet experienced a “catastrophic mechanical malfunction” during takeoff Friday, raining jet fuel over Virginia Beach before plunging to the ground, damaging five apartment buildings, according to residents and Navy officials.

The jet carried a student pilot in the front seat and an experienced instructor behind him, and the leakage of jet fuel was “one of the indications that there was a mechanical malfunction,” Navy Capt. Mark Weisgerber told reporters. The Navy is investigating the crash.

The jet landed eerily upright in flames in an apartment complex courtyard, setting the surrounding five buildings on fire.

The two pilots, a Virginia Beach police officer, an EMS volunteer and three other people were treated for injuries at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. There were no fatalities.

The jet, which was not carrying live ordnance, was part of a training squadron at Naval Air Station Oceana, the Navy and Federal Aviation Administration said. It crashed 2.2 miles from the runway, a senior Defense Department official told CNN.

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