For Bill Dusting it was just an average workday. Like most mornings, he parked his mail truck and climbed out to deliver mail to the University City neighborhood he has worked in for 15 years.
Except on this day, Monday, it was trash day so he parked the truck in a different location than usual. Carrying a heavy load of holiday mail, Dusting remembers thinking that the parking was a little bit of an inconvenience but almost 24 hours later, as he recalls what happened Monday just before noon, he admits "it paid dividends in the end."
Dusting was just 30 yards away from where an F/A-18 Hornet jet crashed into the two houses, killing at least three people. To hear him tell it, it was a split decision – to go left or right -- that saved his life.
"I heard a big pop. I thought someone had a shot at me. I looked up. I saw a parachute and big chunk of metal, heading straight at me," said Dusting. He ran in the other direction, and hit the grass, avoiding injury.
On Tuesday, Dusting met with news crews at La Jolla Shores where he spent the morning kayaking. After a difficult night sleeping, he wanted to get his mind off the scene he had witnessed just the day before.
"It was just like “Back Draft” at Universal Studios. Whoa! That could've been me," he said. "It would've been all over straight-away."
He can only remember the visuals not the sounds or smells. "The visuals will always stick with me,” he said. “Like a panoramic view of fire and debris."
When asked about his customers, the family killed in the crash, Dusting was brief. “Normally their door is open, “ he said, “They had a dog that would leap at me from the other side of the fence. It's hard to fathom.”
He prefers to concentrate on the positive, the other customers who survived. He can't wait to see them again. And to get rid of the nightmares he had last night.
"I keep seeing that jet head at me but it is a ‘good nightmare’ because it just keeps missing," said Dusting.