- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

LEMOORE, Calif. (AP) - A communication breakdown happened last spring when a Jeep sped onto a California Naval Air Station and crashed with a parked F-18 jet, killing the Jeep’s driver and his passenger, according to newly released documents.

KFSN reports (https://abc30.tv/2dWv6qE ) Wednesday there was a lack of communication between the station in Lemoore and the California Highway Patrol before and after the Jeep drove through the air station’s entry control point.

The driver of the Jeep, Anthony Castillo, 29, and his passenger, Melissa Miller, 36, were fleeing from a CHP officer after being pulled over on March 31 in Lemoore, which is in rural San Joaquin Valley.

KFSN obtained about 50 pages of Navy documents released under the Freedom of Information Act showing CHP dispatchers tried calling the base three times, but the number was not in service. The number they called was for a base building that was demolished ten years ago.

Dispatchers finally reached an air station operations duty officer around the same time the Jeep entered the base.

The Jeep drove around the base for about 17 minutes, before crashing into the parked jet, killing Miller, according to the documents. Miller was dead at the scene and Castillo died later at a hospital.

A letter from a Navy commander concluded the most significant factor leading to the crash was the failure of timely communications between CHP and base dispatchers.

The documents said the incident “exposed vulnerabilities” and was “a valuable wake-up call” but was not an act of terrorism.

The Navy must now make certain contact numbers are updated and verified frequently, the documents said.


This story corrects that the events happened on March 31, not on March 30.


Information from: The Fresno Bee, https://www.fresnobee.com

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