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Four-year anniversary of 'Good Friday Miracle'

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- It was a chaotic and scary scene that local residents won't soon forget.

A Navy jet crashed into a Virginia Beach apartment complex on Good Friday in 2012.

From that point on, it was called the "Good Friday Miracle" because, amazingly, no one was killed.

"And I heard it come out of my radio in my vehicle and looked kind of over my shoulder and saw a huge plume of black smoke and headed that way," said Virginia Beach Fire District Chief James Ramsey. He credits all the training his men and women got, and continue to get.

"The firefighters made all the right moves as far as supplying lines and getting there and doing searches," he said. "So, good fortune, and good training kind of saved the day."

An F/A-18 D Hornet, 70 seconds after takeoff from Naval Air Station Oceana, had suffered dual engine failures. The compressor went out in one, the afterburner failed to light in the other.

The two aviators ejected one second before impact. They weren't seriously hurt, and miraculously, nobody on the ground was either.

Mayfair Mews resident Joanie Coleman isn't quite sure she can believe it's been four years.

"I sometimes can, but sometimes I can't, when I realized today was Good Friday, four years, it is a little bit unbelievable," she said.

And, with Navy jet operations as robust as ever, Coleman wonders if the luck will continue. When asked if she thinks it could happen again, she said, "Probably. Probably. I'm quite sure."

It was 26 years in between civilian-involved, off-base aviation fatalities. The last one before the Mayfair Mews crash, came in 1986, after some two million takeoffs and landings at Oceana.

Chief Ramsey pointed out there were many toxic fumes and other possible carcinogens in the smoke that day. And he says it's possible it may be five, 10 or 15 years before it's known what the health impact may have been on first responders.

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