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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A sailor lost his lower right leg after being pinned under the wheels of an F/A-18 Hornet on the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier on Wednesday.

The 19-year old sailor is a “blue shirt” airplane handler in the carrier’s V-1 division and was on the flight deck at 6:15 p.m. when the accident occurred. His name is being withheld for “privacy reasons,” said Kitty Hawk spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Terrence Dudley.

“The Hornet was basically being parked on the flight deck,” Dudley said. “The case is still under investigation but we know that the sailor managed to get his leg trapped under the wheels.”

No one else was injured, he said.

An emergency response team rushed the sailor to the Kitty Hawk’s medical facility, where the ship’s surgeon amputated the sailor’s leg below the knee. He was then evacuated by helicopter to U.S. naval medical facilities on Okinawa.

A safety investigation report is expected within 30 days, as Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-192 has convened an aviation ground mishap board to look into the accident, Dudley said.

“We stand by our safety record and we emphasize safety but unfortunately an aircraft carrier is a dangerous environment,” Dudley said. “Things like this do happen on rare occasions.”

The carrier’s complement of 3,150 sailors and 2,480 members aviation personnel are taking the news as “well as can be expected,” Dudley said.

“This sailor is very well-liked and admired so it comes as quite a shock to everyone,” he said.

The accident did not interrupt the Kitty Hawk’s schedule, he said. The carrier was operating in the Okinawa area of the western Pacific when the accident occurred.


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