Military Plane Crashes Off St. George Island

LT COL Patrick Marshall had to quickly eject from his plane after reported having engine problems. Officials with the U.S. Air Force tell us the crash happened around noon Friday.

The crash site is off of Saint George Island and is very close to the Saint George Plantation, a private residential community. Those on the island at the time of the crash say the impact rocked vehicles and shook homes.

Robert Giuliani, visiting from Chicago, said, "We were actually cleaning up the pool, heard this huge explosion, the house shook a little bit, fell off the ceiling."

The F-15 fighter plane that crashed there around noon Friday is too deep under ground and water to see. Members of area law enforcement and officials with the U.S. Air Force collected only small fragments, hoping to piece together what happened.

CAPT Eric Johnston with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says one of their boats brought the pilot in.

"Seeing the aircraft is not unusual, crashes are very unusual," says CAPT Johnston.

After hearing the big boom, some Saint George Island residents didn't know what had happened

"I was at Saint Patrick's church, we heard the boom, that's all the way across the bridge, we jumped, jumped it was so loud it shook us," said Donna Butterfield, a St. George resident.

The pilot, LT COL Patrick Marshall, was engaged in air combat training with the Air Force. A spokesman with Tyndall Air Force Base, where the pilot is stationed, says it may be a while before the plane is pulled up.

"It could be hours, maybe a day or so before investigators figure out what depth they have to pull the plane out," says SMSgt Rob Fuller of Tyndall Air Force Base.

Anyone who finds fragments from the plane is urged to contact the Franklin County Sheriff's Office at (850) 670-8500. The last plane crash involving a Tyndall assigned F-15 was back on May 5, 1994.