The F/A-18D Hornet was on a routine flight over the Beaufort, South Carolina, area, Thursday afternoon, Marine Corp Air Station Beaufort said in a statement. At the crash site, there was smoke coming from the aircraft and a brushfire, military officials said.
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said the jet crashed near where his late father is buried on Coosaw Plantation, which is the family’s property. Sanford and his siblings grew up there, he told The Charlotte Observer.
Sanford's sister, Sarah Sanford Rauch, saw the jet’s engine catch fire and turn nose-down toward the ground, she said.
"I said to my brother, ‘No, no, no, this is bad,’ " Rauch told The Post and Courier. "And then about a second later there was a colossal explosion."
Rauch and her brother John went searching for the plane and found the two Marines who had ejected, she said. Both were able to walk on their own, she said.
According to militarymachine.com, each F/A-18 Hornet costs more than $34 million, and they cost $6.5 million a year to operate, statista.com has reported, citing General Accounting Office data.