Frustration, Questions Linger After Jet Crash

More than 100 people from University City attended a local meeting at Standley Middle School Thursday night -- not far from the site of a deadly Dec. 8 F/A 18 Hornet jet crash -- to voice their concerns and frustrations. 

The meeting, organized by San Diego City Council Woman Sherrie Lightner, gave residents the chance to speak out.  There was an obvious split in opinion about what "moving forward" means.

The majority of people spoke out in favor of the Marines changing their emergency flight rules. 

"We'd like some assurance from the Marine Corps that in the future if they have an aircraft that is badly impaired, it gets bingo'd to North Island, where it can make its approach over water," local resident Ron Belanger said. 

Others said they wanted a more open dialog with the Marines about what went wrong, including the release of  the voice data exchange between the pilot and towers. Representatives of the Marine Corps and MCAS Miramar were on hand at the meeting. Col. Christopher O'Connor, the commanding officer at Miramar, addressed several questions about a change in policy. 

"Following the conclusion of the investigation, should there be a recommendation in regard to flight operations," O'Connor said. "We will analyze that and again do what's the best thing we can do."

Many residents said they felt that the best way to move forward is to back off. 

"But sometimes we have something like this and then we forget that what happens here is not totally risk-free, and that there is a price to freedom," said Pete Hekmen, a retired vice admiral and University City resident. 

Another man got up and spoke to the crowd calling the meeting a "waste of time".

The meeting was not without information for residents.  O'Connor said there are still elevated levels of hydrocarbon found in the soil, and efforts are under way to remove that soil with the Department of Environmental Health's aid.  He also said results of the investigation into the crash will be available to the public by the end of February.

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