A Neighborhood Scarred Forever

One year after jet crash neighbors say they're closer

By Greg Bledsoe
|  Sunday, Dec 6, 2009  |  Updated 10:07 AM PDT
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RAW Video: First Minutes After Crash

Getty Images/Sandy Huffaker

Fire rages in a neighborhood in the University City area December 8, 2008 in San Diego, California. An FA-18 military jet crashed during a training exercise.

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Empty Lots Full of Reminders

One year after jet crash neighbors say they are closer.

Home Video from the Crash Site

Home video shot by Guillermo Moreira shows the chaos that happened moments after an F/A-18 crashed into homes in University City.
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It's been nearly a year since a military jet crashed into a San Diego neighborhood killing four people inside one house.

"And there it was, all red flames," said Choko McConnell on Saturday looking across the street and thinking back to a year ago.

McConnell was sitting in her living room when she heard what she describes as a huge explosion.

A military FA-18 fighter jet had lost power in both engines, and crashed into two homes across the street.  No one was home inside one of them.  But inside the other, a mother, a grandmother, and two small children were killed.

"It was very sad, very, very sad," says McConnell, who didn't really know the family, "And then, that's the first time you wake up and think, oh, I didn't know my neighbors."

She and others on this street say that's changed over the past 12 months.

"Now, we all take the time, say hi," says Glenn Martin, who lives one street away. "It's made us a closer knit community."

The pilot in crash, Lt. Dan Neubauer, ejected safely.  The military has allowed Neubauer to continue flying, and promoted him to Captain.  An investigation report found Neubauer was ordered to try and land the disabled jet at Miramar.  In that report Neubauer says when both engines went out, he was forced to eject, and when he saw the aircraft crash into the houses he said, "I screamed in horror when I realized what had just happened."

Both lots where those houses once stood still sit empty, as a reminder of what happened.  Neighbors said they're not sure when the homes will be rebuilt, but all of them said new houses won't cover up their memories.

"It is something you are always going to remember," said Glenn Martin.

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