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Three reported dead in crash of NAS Whidbey Island jet

Three people are dead after a Whidbey Island-based Navy EA-6B Prowler crashed Monday morning west of Spokane. (Image courtesy Stan Damme, with Odessa Municipal Airport)

Three people are dead after a Whidbey Island-based Navy aircraft crashed in Eastern Washington Monday morning.

The EA-6B Prowler crashed just after 9 a.m. in a field west of the small town of Harrington, west of Spokane.

Authorities report all three crew members on board died.

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

“First responders are on the scene and have reported finding partial remains of the mishap aircrew,” the Navy informed Congress. “All three onboard are presumed dead.”

The identities of the crew were not immediately available.

“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 state House of Representatives observed a moment of silence Monday in response to the crash.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the crew of the plane was serving the nation.

“I know all Washingtonians join me in sending condolences to the crew’s families and to their fellow service members,” Inslee said.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also said her prayers were with family members of the crew.

The Prowler was “engaged in a low-level navigation training mission,” the Navy told Congress. Whidbey Island officials said the cause of the accident was under investigation.

NAS Whidbey Island is the home of all Navy tactical electronic attack squadrons flying the EA-6B Prowler, a four person jet being phased out in favor of the two person EA-18G Growler.

The Prowler is used for electronic warfare such as jamming enemy radar and intercepting radio transmissions. While it can carry up to three electronics officers along with a pilot, it is generally flown with a three-member crew.

Navy aircrews regularly fly across Eastern Washington for training exercises, according to a spokesman for the base.

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 Associated Press contributed to this report.

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