Three people -- a mother, her baby and a grandmother -- are killed when a fighter jet crashes in University City, fire and coroner's officials said, and another small child is missing.
After its pilot ejected, the F/A-18D Hornet fighter jet crashed in the street of a quiet neighborhood Monday and tore into a home with four people inside, authorities said.
Fellow church members said that Young Mi Yoon, 36, a wife and mother of two young daughters, was inside her home when the aircraft crashed into it. They also said that her two sons -- one of them a year old, the other 2 months old, as well as her mother from Korea -- were also inside.
"They're good people, they're gentle people, they're loving people -- a lot of compassion for a lot of people," said senior pastor Daniel Shin of the Korean United Methodist Church.
Church members said the victim worked as a nurse at a local hospital. Her businessman husband wasn't home when the plane went down.
Church members said the family had just moved into the home because they needed more room for the new baby.
Crews will resume searching for the missing child at daybreak Tuesday.
Two homes were destroyed and three damaged in the middle-class neighborhood of half-million dollar houses. Watch home video of crash scene
"It happened in a split-second -- boom, boom, boom," said Alain Blanc, 64, a retired photographer who lives next to the destroyed homes and was working on his computer. "The whole house started shaking and rocking."
Blanc heard what he thought were exploding propane tanks. Two neighbors said a black pickup truck caught fire after a driver ran over flaming debris and yelled that his gas tank was full as he fled the vehicle. Read article on witness reaction
Terri Scheidt, who was wrapping Christmas presents, heard an "unbelievably loud" sound and knew something was wrong. Explosions followed, and she saw two homes engulfed in flames when she ran around the corner.
Someone led an older woman from one of the homes, "completely in shock," Scheidt said.
The pilot, who ended up hanging by his parachute from a tree in a canyon beneath the neighborhood, was in stable condition at a naval hospital in San Diego, said Miramar spokeswoman 1st Lt. Katheryn Putnam. He had been returning from training on the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the San Diego coast when the plane went down. See photos and learn more about the pilot
Dawn Lyons spoke to the pilot just after he landed in the tree.
"I saw an incredibly composed person," Lyons said. "He didn't have any scrapes or bruises. He was very lucid."
"He said, 'I was flying on one engine for like a hundred miles' -- maybe that was an exagerration, but that's what he said," Lyons said.
The pilot told witnesses his second engine failed upon final approach. A retired Navy aviator, Lt. Cmdr. Steve Diamond, said he drove to the scene after seeing the plane go down and spoke with the pilot about what caused the crash.
"I can say with a fair degree of certainty that there were mechanical issues with the engine," Diamond said.
He said the pilot -- a first lieutenant who appeared to be in his 20s -- was flying over the ocean when he radioed in for an emergency landing at Miramar. The plane was flying low and was stable until the moment before he ejected, Diamond said.
By Monday night six uninhabitable homes remained empty, authorities said.
There was little sign of the plane in the smoking ruins, but a piece of cockpit could be seen on the roof of one home, and a charred jet engine sat on a street near a parked camper.
The neighborhood in San Diego's University City section smelled like a brush fire doused with jet fuel and looked like a scene out of a disaster movie. Streets were choked with rescue vehicles. A Marine Corps bomb disposal truck was there, although police assured residents there were no bombs aboard the jet. The team was looking for the aircraft's second ejection seat, which does have a small explosive charge, Marine officials told the Los Angeles Times.
Neighbors described a scene of chaos after the jet tore into the houses and flames erupted.
"It was pandemonium," said Paulette Glauser, 49, who lived six houses away. "Neighbors were running down toward us in a panic, of course. One girl collapsed in my front yard."
She went to get water and a blanket and when she returned paramedics were already treating the girl.
Jets frequently streak over the neighborhood 2 miles from the base, but residents said the imperiled aircraft was flying extremely low.
The type of supersonic jet that crashed is widely used by the Marine Corps and Navy and by the stunt-flying Blue Angels.
There was no indication the pilot was using alcohol or drugs, Putnam said. Investigators will review information from a flight data recorder before reaching any conclusions on what went wrong.
The Marine Corps said the pilot was part of the Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, based at Miramar. A similar plane crashed at Miramar in November 2006, and that pilot also ejected safely.
Neighbors jolted by the crash said they initially thought it was the sound of gunshots, a train derailment or tractor-trailer trucks colliding.
"It was quite violent," said Ben Dishman, 55, who was resting on his couch after having back surgery. "I hear the jets from Miramar all the time. I often worry that one of them will hit one of these homes. It was inevitable. I feel very lucky."