DEATH VALLEY (CBSLA) — The pilot of an FA-18E Super Hornet died after the fighter jet crashed Wednesday in Death Valley, the U.S. Navy confirmed Thursday.

“There were actually parts of the plane in the parking lot where the spectators were,” Tim Cassell, who witnessed the crash, said. “I didn’t have much hope for the pilot, but I was concerned. We looked around, and didn’t see anything.”

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The U.S. Navy confirmed the death of the pilot just before 12:40 p.m. Thursday saying, “The Navy has confirmed that the pilot of the FA-18E died in the crash. In accordance with DoD policy, the identity of the pilot will be withheld 24 hours. The Navy mourns the loss of one of our own and our thoughts go out to the family and friends affected by this tragedy.”

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, said. “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.

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“As unfortunate as they were in that they sustained these burn injuries, from the potential of life-threatening problems, I think they got away pretty lucky,” Grossman said.

According to the official Twitter feed for the U.S. Naval Air Forces, the crash happened around 10 a.m. when the FA-18E Super Hornet went down near an area often referred to as Star Wars Canyon — not far from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake — on the western edge of Death Valley National Park.

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

Star Wars Canyon is popular with visitors because fighter jets speed through it. The pilot and jet were assigned to Naval Air Station Lemoore.

The Navy said in a statement Thursday that the pilot’s identity will be withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin in accordance with Defense Department policy.

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The cause of the crash is under investigation.