SAN DIEGO, CA. Roughly 300 residents of University City packed a standing-room only auditorium last night at University City High School, to listen to military and city representatives discussing Monday’s jet crash which killed four residents, and destroyed or damaged five homes. The crash had occurred just mere hundreds of feet from the high school campus.
The Union-Tribune reported that many in the crowd supported the military, but also that many were concerned that they would never learn the truth about the F-18 jet and why it crashed into their neighborhood. Anger was evident in the crowd, and it was downright hostile at times. “I’m very concerned that we’re not going to get the full truth,” the U-T reported Louis Rodolico, a local resident, declared to thunderous applause, “and we’re not going to have enough outrage (in the community).”
“We need to know who cleared this pilot to fly over our houses,” Rodolico said. Other speakers asked the Marines to reroute pilots away from University City, and to cancel the Blue Angels air show for a year or more, as the U-T reported.
Others in the audience were critical that the pilot had been directed by the Marine Corps to fly his disabled jet over a densely populated area.
City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, whose district includes University City, moderated the meeting. Mayor Jerry Sanders and Assistant Chief Jeff Carle of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department were there, as were Col. Christopher O’Connor, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. After presentations from the officials, the audience was allowed to ask questions and make statements.
Mayor Sanders tried to calm the audience by saying the military would prevent another crash like the one that occurred, and said “I’m sure we’ll be learning many lessons that we can put to use.”
Col. O’Connor, the Miramar commandant, reiterated: “I pledge an absolutely thorough investigation so the cause is identified and never happens again.”
In a briefing with some members of Congress in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Marine generals said that the pilot, Lt. Dan Neubauer, who ejected safely, correctly followed procedure by trying to make an emergency landing at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station instead of heading toward a coastal base, as the U-T reported.
The jet crashed into the house on Cather Avenue rented by Don Yoon and his family, killing his wife, Youngmi Lee, 36; and their two daughters, 2-month-old Rachel and 15-month-old Grace; plus Youngmi’s mother, Seokim Kim, 60. The jet had lost its two engines, and on its approach to the Miramar runway, went down about two miles short.
Meanwhile, the voiceofsandiego reports that the engineer who warned of the extreme risk of a catastrophic jet crash in the University City neighborhood thirty years ago, stood by his analysis, made in a report in 1979. “I stand by my conclusions,” said Jerry Kopecek. “No homes should be built near the departure or arrival end of the runway.”