KEY WEST, Fla. - A U.S. Navy fighter jet crashed Wednesday off the coast of Key West, Florida, killing its two crew members.
One of the Navy pilots, Caleb King, 30, is from Central Florida.
The F/A-18 Super Hornet was on approach to land at the naval air station around 4:30 p.m. EDT, and crashed into the water about a mile east of the runway.
The pilot and weapons system officer ejected and were recovered, but U.S. Naval Air Forces reported late Wednesday night that both had died.
An F/A-18F Super Hornet from VFA-213 crashed on approach to Boca @NASKeyWest this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Rescue crews recovered both aviators from the water; they were taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center. The jet was on a training flight; cause under investigation.— flynavy (@flynavy) March 14, 2018
King’s father, Darrell King, said he and his family are devastated about the loss.
He said his son was a star athlete on the football field at Warner Christian Academy and then went on to play for the Naval Academy.
“I thank the Navy for making him the man that he was. I also give credit to some of his youth football coaches, teachers and school,” said Darrell King.
He said his son was a very modest, quiet, but talented and hard-working man.
WATCH: Father of Navy pilot speaks about son
Darrell King held back tears as he held a replica fighter jet Caleb gave to him, which has their names inscribed on the side.
“I can’t put into words what it’s like to be the father of a man like Caleb King. It’s awesome,” he said. “He was an absolutely outstanding ball player. More than that, an outstanding person, wonderful son, brother, father and husband. Everybody is going to miss him. Especially me.”
Amy Price met Caleb King while she was working at Warner Christian Academy.
She said he stood out among his classmates in his class of fewer than 200 students at the private Christian school.
“Caleb was just an awesome kid. A phenomenal person. He was a very talented athlete, an excellent student and just a really devoted friend,” Price said.
Caleb King was a father to a 1-year-old daughter. His wife was also in the Navy.
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
The aircraft crew is based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The Super Hornet is a twin-engine fighter jet that is larger than the single-seat F/A-18 Hornet.
President Donald Trump has tweeted his condolences
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