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Navy pilot killed in Death Valley crash identified as 33-year-old lieutenant

The U.S. Navy identified the pilot of an FA-18E Super Hornet who died after the fighter jet crashed Wednesday in Death Valley as 33-year-old Lt. Charles Z Walker. The pilot was assigned to the "Vigilantes" of VFA-151 based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California's Central Valley, CBS Los Angeles reports.

The pilot was missing following the fighter jet crash that left seven civilians — six from the same family visiting the area from France — with burn injuries mostly to their backs and legs.

"All of them will need to undergo surgery to treat their burn injuries," Dr. Peter Grossman of the Grossman Burn Center, told CBS Los Angeles. "Some of them are going to start surgery tomorrow morning, and some will wait for a day or two until we take them to the operating room, but it's very likely that a number of them are going to require skin grafts of their own."

Witnesses said the crash caused the plane to explode with plane parts and burning fuel raining down on spectators.

The aircraft was on a routine training flight when the crash occurred.

"He was an integral member of the Vigilante family and his absence will be keenly felt on the flight line. Our aviators understand the risk associated with this profession, and they knowingly accept it in service to our nation," The U.S. Naval Air Forces wrote on Twitter. "The untimely loss of a fellow aviator and shipmate pains us all. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends."

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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