University City Expresses Anger and Distrust of Military Over Crash

by on December 12, 2008 · 6 comments

in Environment, Military, San Diego, War and Peace

Monday's jet crash occurred very close to the campus of University City High School, not the half-mile as reported by the Union-Tribune. (Photo: K.C. Alfred

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.

SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune University City resident Bill Whitmarsh was displeased with the military's answers Thursday night about Monday's fighter jet crash.

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.

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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.”

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

anonNclairemont December 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm

I agree with speakers reported. THe Marines need to stop flights over neighborhoods, and don’t have the Blue Angels show.


dan h December 13, 2008 at 7:43 pm

it is amazing how many people move into the direct line of approach to an airport and actually have the gaul to demonstrate their utter stupidity by complaining about the criminal assault on their homes by engineless aircraft trying to reach a runway. the runway was there first. if there is any criminality, it is the criminal disregard for safety by city planning boards deciding to build high density housing in the flight path to an airport.
the only ways to prevent repeats of this accident are to gound all aircraft including ballons, and then move five miles away from all airports.


Curt Verbose December 14, 2008 at 7:25 pm

Not only should the air show cease forever, but the base should be moved from San Diego county. The base in Coronado should go also. And while I’m thinking of it, all the bases in Germany should be closed down also. Would it not be wonderful if some of that land was transformed into park land? How about we move the military out of San Diego? One way to make war obsolete is to make the military unwelcome in many facets of our culture. Remove the recruiters from the schools; reduce the military spending so that it is, oh, about 20% of the U.S. govorporation’s budget. Let us raise our children so they decide that the military is not a career. Choke off the warmongers’ source of ordnance, and they won’t be able to breath fire.


Molly December 15, 2008 at 8:49 am

Dan H – “it is amazing how many people move into the direct line of approach to an airport and actually have the gaul to demonstrate their utter stupidity by complaining about the criminal assault on their homes by engineless aircraft trying to reach a runway.”

I can’t understand what you’re trying to say here. “criminal assault” vs. people moving into the line of approach – does not make sense. Please explain yourself.


Curt Verbose December 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm

We need a concerted effort today. We should organize a telephone campaign that targets key personnel at Miramar Air Station just to let them know that they shouldn’t be flying in weather like today. Maybe we could set up an electronic telemessage, just like the ones the Dems & Repubs use during election campaigns. It would say something like, “Dear General Battleman, We the citizens of San Diego are concerned about the caliber of military intelligence emanating from Miramar Air Station. To assist you in your decision making, we are calling to tell you that it is raining outside and that all flying machines should be grounded. Do not send pilots to fixed wing or rotor propelled aircraft to fly in rainy, windy weather. In addition, we are still pissed off about your bombing the hell out of Fallujah several years ago. Please stop bombing areas of the world where people live. This has been a kindly service reminder from concerned citizens of San Diego and beyond. Should you have any questions regarding this reminder, please consult your field manual. I’m sure there’s a page in there telling pilots to not fly during inclement weather (inclement weather means bad weather).


Observer December 19, 2008 at 2:57 pm

Yes its idiotic to move in front of a runnway or under a flight path, but flight paths change with the wind. Planes will fall out of the sky, its a fact of life, so compute your risk and act accordingly. Since the airport was there first you take your chances.


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