SUMTER, S.C. — The Sumter community is mourning the death of a Shaw Air Force Base pilot after a F-16 fighter jet crashed Tuesday night.
According to Shaw officials, the crash happened around 11:00 p.m. during a training mission.
Officials at Shaw Air Force Base said Thursday morning that 1st Lt David Schmitz, 77th Fighter Squadron, died in the crash. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
“Our hearts go out to his family and not just his biological family, but also his Air Force family because I know they’re grieving as well,” Sumter Mayor Joe McElveen said.
Shaw Air Force Base has been a staple to the community for more than 75 years. Mayor McElveen said this tragedy hits close to home.
“We have a very close connection with Shaw and we grieve with them today and especially with this young pilot who leaves a wife,” McElveen said. “It’s just a real tragedy and it reminds us of the dangers and risks that these airmen and airwomen take everyday to keep our country safe and to protect us.”
Sumter Sheriff Anthony Dennis shared his sentiment.
“We at Sumter County Sheriff’s Office were saddened to learn of the tragic incident that occurred at Shaw Air Force Base,” Dennis said in a statement, “We have a great relationship with Shaw and will continue to be here for them, especially during this difficult time. The feeling of losing one of your own is indescribable. Our condolences go out to the airman’s family and Shaw.”
Mayor McElveen added that he has reached out to the base to offer condolences and support from the city during this time.