First responders describe jet crash scene


by Karen Hopkins

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 5:41 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH --  Some of the first responders to the scene of Friday's jet crash are speaking out about the unforgettable experience.

Virginia Beach Fire Engine 11 was first to Mayfair Mews Apartments on Birdneck Road.  Captain Gregg Benshoff didn't believe it until he saw it with his own eyes.

"My first thought was this isn't real.  It's a hoax," said Benshoff.

But when his team saw the disaster, everything changed.

"I took a deep breath and did what I had to do," said Benschoff who is calling this the worst disaster he's seen in 27 years.

In the ashes, firefighter Michael Walker uncovered items that made everything personal.

"Obviously a young couple had lived there and they had their wedding pictures right there, and I wiped it off the smoke, the damage, the wedding picture was perfectly fine both of them," Walker described.

13News also spoke to a resident who had stored her husband's ashes in a closet.  They were found intact.

Just about a month ago, the Navy trained hundreds of Virginia Beach firefighters how to respond to a jet accident.

"That day we had A++ players," said Benshoff. "They are the best trained.  They are awesome, did a fantastic job."