Residents Grill Military After Jet Crash

A Marine colonel's answers rang hollow to some people attending a the standing-room only crowd at University City High School, where many students witnessed the fiery crash.

An estimated 300 people attended the community forum at University City High School to talk about Monday's deadly military jet crash that killed four people in the Yoon family. The forum was organized by District 1 Councilwoman Sherri Lightner.  San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne and some city fire captains were also at the meeting, but most of the questions were directed at Col. Christopher O'Connor, the commander of MCAS Miramar.

Some called the military insensitive in the days following the crash. 

"I've heard the word 'mishap' used six times tonight," University City resident Mike Maxwell said. "I've also seen 'mishap' on the Marine Web site. To my untrained ears, 'mishap' sounds grossly callous, and it trivializes the accident, the crash, the tragedy." 

O'Connor replied to Maxwell. 

"You know, that pilot who flew that mission will go to his grave knowing that he had some role in the deaths of four people, so please don't trivialize this because we use the word 'mishap,' " O'Connor. 

Others in the audience criticized the decision to direct the plane, which reportedly lost one engine over the Pacific Ocean, to Marine Corps Air Station for an emergency landing. 

"Who cleared this doomed vehicle to fly over a heavily populated area when there was a world of options?" resident Louis Rodolico asked. "There's NAS North Island, there's the ocean'"

O'Connor said that the military made the right decision at the time. 

"The F/A-18 is a two engine aircraft," O'Connor said. "It is designed and flies safely on one engine."

O'Connor was then interrupted by someone yelling, "Apparently not."  He continued by saying  the plane appeared to be safe flying back to Miramar. 

"If in fact, the aircraft lost it's second engine,  it could be catastrophic," O'Connor said. "I can assure you both the pilot and the air traffic controller -- that was not their intention to fly that aircraft over a populated area.  The intent was to safely land that airplane." 

O'Connor also offered his condolences to the victim's family and promised a full investigation into the crash.

Funeral services for the Yoon family are set for Friday at Glenn Abbey Memorial Park in Bonita in the 3800 block of Bonita Road. A viewing will be held from 5-7 p.m. The funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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