NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Debris from an F-35 fighter jet that went missing over South Carolina was found in Williamsburg County, officials told NewsNation affiliate WBTW.
A Marine Corps pilot safely ejected from a fighter jet over North Charleston on Sunday afternoon and the search for his missing aircraft was focused on two lakes north of North Charleston, military officials said.
A spokesperson from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps confirmed the incident in a statement but declined to provide more information.
“We can confirm a mishap involving an F-35B Lightning II jet from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Sept. 17. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft. The search-and-recovery efforts for the aircraft are ongoing, and we are thankful to the agencies assisting in this effort. The mishap is currently under investigation. The Department of the Navy has a well-defined process for investigating aircraft mishaps. We are unable to provide additional details to preserve the integrity of the investigatory process,” the statement reads.
The pilot ejected and parachuted safely into a North Charleston neighborhood at about 2 p.m. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was in stable condition, said Maj. Melanie Salinas. The pilot’s name has not been released.
Based on the missing plane’s location and trajectory, the search for the F-35 Lightning II jet was focused on Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion, said Senior Master Sgt. Heather Stanton at Joint Base Charleston. Both lakes are north of North Charleston.
A South Carolina Law Enforcement Division helicopter joined the search for the F-35 after some bad weather cleared in the area, Stanton said. Military officials appealed in online posts Sunday for any help from the public in locating the aircraft.
Officials are still investigating why the pilot ejected, authorities said.
The pilot of a second F-35 returned safely to Joint Base Charleston, Salinas said.
The planes and pilots were with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 based in Beaufort, not far from South Carolina’s Atlantic coast.