Seven people were killed outside a British airshow near Brighton after a military jet crashed into a busy road, police said Saturday. More than a dozen others were hurt.
The single-seat Hawker Hunter jet — taken out of service with the royal air force and navy decades ago — failed to pull out of an acrobatic loop at the Shoreham Airshow and hit several vehicles on the A27 in nearby West Sussex, on England’s south coast.
The Associated Press quotes West Sussex Police as saying that seven people died and one patient with life-threatening injuries was taken to the hospital. Another 14 people were treated for minor injuries.
The BBC quotes witness Stephen Jones as saying the pilot of the jet had just begun his performance when he lost control of the plane.
“He’d gone up into a loop and as he was coming out of the loop I just thought, ‘You’re too low, you’re too low, pull up,’ ” Jones said. “And he flew straight into the ground either on or very close to the A27, which runs past the airport.”
Ailish Southall, who was driving along the A27 with her two children, told the BBC that the plane came down close to them. “We were waiting for it to go back up and it didn’t — it seemed to kind of split in two.”
One witness was quoted by The Guardian as saying he did not see the pilot eject before the crash.
“If I’d been 20 seconds faster I would not be having this conversation,” Dom Lawson, who was driving on the A27 when the jet crashed, told the Guardian.
The AP writes:
“The force said all the casualties were believed to have occurred on the road, and no one on the airfield was believed injured.
“News reports carried video and photographs of a fireball erupting near trees and huge plumes of thick black smoke rising.”