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Pensacola gym grieves loss of pilot killed in crash off Key West coast

Pensacola gym grieves loss of pilot killed in crash off Key West coast

Members of a Pensacola gym were devastated to learn their friend was one of the pilots killed in a crash off the coast of Key West on Wednesday.

Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb King were in an F/A-18F Super Hornet when it went down while approaching Naval Air Station Key West. The two pilots were based out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia. Johnson previously lived in Pensacola while he was attending flight school.

"When I heard the news, it's a punch in the gut," Joesph McCrory said.

McCrory is the owner of Alpha Omega Sports Performance. McCrory said Johnson and his wife, "Mash," were part of the gym's family from 2012 to 2014.

"We've opened each of our classes with a quick little, I don't know, moment of silence if you will for him and his family," McCrory said.

Sharon Lord was friends with Johnson, too. While it has been a while since she has seen him, she hasn't forgotten the person he was.

"He joked around a lot, which is awesome in a workout class, kind of keeps you motivated," Lord said. "He was just super positive, laughing all the time. Just a guy that you like being around."

Lord said it is heartbreaking, especially because Johnson was young and had a family.

"To his wife, I'm just so sorry," Lord said.

McCrory sends his same sentiments to Johnson's wife. He said Johnson will be missed by many.

"He was fiercely competitive, but was also the first person to pick the last person up and give them a high five, big hug," McCrory said. "Always had a smile on his face. He made the gym feel better when he walked in the door."

The Navy is still investigating what happened to cause the flight mishap.

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