Virginia Beach jet crash hero says he’s no Superman

Posted at 7:50 AM, Apr 10, 2012

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WTKR) - Pat Kavanaugh, the reluctant hero who said a pilot landed right in his backyard after an F/A-18 Navy Jet slammed into his apartment building, stood in the sunlight in disbelief.

He thinks it`s remarkable that his friends and neighbors survived.

“A weight was lifted off my chest. I cried, I couldn`t believe it, still can`t believe it. How could something like this happen and nobody died?” asked Pat.

No one is dead. Pat returned to the scene of his charred out apartment complex to get on with the business of living.  He and his neighbors are trying to retrieve some essentials.

“Get some items I need: my wallet, my driver’s license, medical cards, medication,” says Pat.

Despite his own medical problems, this former member of the Beach volunteer rescue squad saw an emergency and ignored his own ailments to rescue not only a Navy Pilot but several neighbors.   Some 72 hours after surviving a jet a crashing in his back yard, he is in a word, emotional.

“Emotions get to you. I have a 20-year-old son now. He called his daddy. And to me, he was very proud of his father, and so I’ve been through a lot,” says Pat.

That’s an understatement if you know Pat’s story. He was working volunteer rescue in 1986 when an A-6 jet went down on Oceana Boulevard killing a pregnant woman on the ground and the pilot.  And his squad responded to a car accident in 1987, only to find his first wife trapped and bleeding to death in her car.

So when he thinks back to the events of good Friday and sees the charred remains of what was once his home, Pat shares the philosophy of a true survivor.  But he rejects the title of hero.

“It wasn`t just me, there`s no “S” on my undershirt. I`m no Superman,” says Kavanagh.

“I`m very proud of the Navy. It`s not their fault. I hope one day I`ll be able to shake the hands of the two pilots,” he says.

Pat has two requests: don't blame the Navy for the accident and don't call him a hero.

Currently, he is staying with friends and he is hoping and praying that the apartments are rebuilt so that he doesn't lose the close relationships he has built with his neighbors.