F-16 jet, Cessna plane collide near Charleston, SC; 2 dead

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MONCKS CORNER, S.C. -- An Air Force F-16 fighter jet and a small private airplane collided Tuesday over South Carolina, killing two people aboard the civilian aircraft and prompting the military pilot to eject, authorities said.

Someone called 911 shortly after 11 a.m. to report the collision about 30 miles north of Charleston near Lewisfield Planation in Berkeley County, county spokesman Michael Mule said. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters indicated the aircraft hit each other a little farther south, about 11 miles from Charleston.

The FAA identified the small private plane as a Cessna 150, which broke up considerably after the collision. No one on the ground was hurt by falling debris, which Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis said fell largely in "a remote, marshy area."

"We are in investigative mode trying to find out who that plane belonged to and who was on board," Berkeley County Rescue Squad Chief Bill Salisbury told reporters. "... We have debris of the small plane scattered over a large area, and part of it is in a rice field."

The National Transportation Safety Board said two people aboard the Cessna died.

Capt. Robert McCullough of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said at least part of the Cessna went into the Cooper River, while the F-16 crashed in Berkeley County. CNN affiliate WCBD showed a picture of what appeared to be a jet engine lying next to a trailer in that area.

The military jet's pilot safely ejected, was picked up and then transported to a hospital, authorities said.

"From what I understand," Salisbury said, "he seemed to be in pretty good shape."

Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Morshe Araujo said the F-16 was part of the military branch's 20th Fighter Wing out of Shaw Air Force Base, which is just west of Sumter and about 75 miles from the crash site.