Imperial Valley Family Inside Home at Time of Military Jet Crash

The explosion caused by the military jet crash ripped their home in two

An Imperial Valley couple has lost everything after a military jet fell from the sky and landed just a few feet from their front door, sparking an explosion that ripped their home in two.

Marina Mendivel and her husband were inside the family’s home on Fonzie Avenue when she felt the impact of the jet crash just a few feet away.

“I heard this real loud explosion. The house just rumbled. And I saw the laundry room door just flew into the hall. At that moment I didn't know what hit us," she told NBC 7.

A Harrier AV-8B had taken off from the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma and was almost at his destination at Naval Air Facility El Centro when the aircraft crashed Wednesday

Two homes were destroyed and a third was badly damaged.

Mendivel's daughter, normally would have been in the family’s garage at that time of day but for some odd reason, her car would not start.

The family believes it was an absolute miracle nobody got hurt

"This morning I woke up and I was in tears not because everything we lost just by the grace of God that we are alive,” said Mendivel’s daughter, Shady Valenzuela.

The Mendivels said the jet landed on Marina’s car and sparked an explosion that burned their home.

While one side of the home appears to be untouched, the center is gutted with debris from the plane wreckage everywhere.

Neighbor Leonardo Olmeda, 25, was racing remote-controlled cars in a street where children were playing when they saw the pilot eject and the jet ignite.

"Everybody seems relieved and thankful that the outcome of this was not worse,” he said.

On Thursday afternoon, Marine officials had the entire crash site blocked off from public and media access.

Dozens of cars drove past the scene to get a glimpse of the damage and take pictures.

Investigators have been there all day.

Marine Capt. Anton Semelroth said the military was investigating to determine whether human error, a mechanical failure or some other reason caused the jet to crash. The probe could take months to complete.

It was the second crash in a month of a Harrier jet from the Yuma air base. On May 9, a pilot was able to eject safely before his jet crashed in a remote desert area near the Gila River Indian Community, south of Phoenix. No one was injured.

Contact Us