This is a developing story and was updated Oct. 1 at 11 p.m. with more information.


Report of a plane crash in the Cherokee National Forest, near the fish hatchery on River Road in Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

Posted by Monroe County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, October 1, 2017

The U.S. Navy said on Twitter its aircraft crashed in the Cherokee National Forest near Tellico Plains Sunday afternoon, WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported.

The station quoted a Navy news release saying a pilot instructor and a student were aboard the T-45C jet out of Meridian, Miss., that was training in the area.

A witness described the crash to the Times Free Press on Sunday night. 

John DeArmond described himself in an email as a retired engineer who used  to do contract work for the naval air station at Charleston, S.C., now called Joint Base Charleston. He's also an aviation enthusiast.

DeArmond said he lives about a mile and a half from the crash site and that the Air National Guard out of Knoxville routinely runs "nap-of-the-earth" drills up through the Tellico River valley.

"It is a thrill to hear the immense roar and if one is quick enough, get a glimpse of the fighters," he wrote.

He said he was sitting in the Green Cove Store and Motel at about 4:40 p.m.Sunday when a fighter jet passed directly overhead "going low and slow and not sounding healthy." 

He drove up River Road and arrived at the crash site at the Holder Cove campground about 2 miles above the Tellico Trout Hatchery. He saw debris on the road and a burning engine high on the hill above the road.

"The fire burned out before I left. There was an odor of lube oil but no jet fuel odor. My conclusion is that the pilot ran out of fuel," DeArmond wrote.

He went back to the store and watched local responders and later federal officials pass by on their way to the site. He said a medical chopper dropped down, loaded up something and "took off in a bee line toward Knoxville."

The investigation will continue today, authorities said.

Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.