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Military jet crash sets homes ablaze in California

IMPERIAL, Calif. (AP) - A Marine jet crashed into a residential area in a Southern California desert community Wednesday, exploding and setting two homes on fire. The pilot ejected safely, and there was no immediate word of any injuries on the ground.

The Harrier AV-8B went down at 4:20 p.m. in Imperial, a city of about 15,000 near the U.S.-Mexico border about 90 miles east of San Diego. Witnesses described an explosion and thick plumes of smoke.

Military Jet Crashes In Residential Neighborhood

"It felt like a bomb was thrown in the backyard of the house," said Adriana Ramos, 45, whose home is less than a block from the crash scene. "The whole house moved."

Ramos fled with her 4-year-old granddaughter and 10-year-old daughter, who both cried at the sight outside.

Another witness, Jose Santos, was driving nearby and saw the plane flying "really low." Then "it just fell down," he said.

Santos sped toward the crash site. On the way, he saw the pilot who had parachuted to the ground.

"He didn't look like he was injured. He was rolling from side to side," and a police officer and others were helping him, Santos said.

At the crash site, there was chaos as people ran in every direction, he said. The two homes were on fire and it was unclear if anyone was inside.

The plane was from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona, said Cpl. Melissa Lee, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. She had no details about what might have caused the accident.

Officials at the Yuma station referred questions to officials at Miramar.

Local police and fire departments referred questions to the Marines, and fire and federal aviation officials did not immediately reply to messages.

This 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.

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Vaughn Withers June 05 2014 at 7:27 AM

Amazing that there are so many folks on here condemning this pilot, calling him "idiot", "coward", "douchebag", "dispicable", and I'm sure a few others that I just decided I didn't want to read any more. This fellow Marine decided to serve this country to make things better for his family, mine, and yours. He learned a skill that many of us dare not do, and used that to keep others safe. Now in the eyes of the condemners, he's reduced to the names i mentioned? Until you know the dynamics of flying an advanced jet aircraft, and serving your country, you have absolutely no right to condemn. This pilot did not fly this plane with the intention of putting others lives in danger, JUST to save his own. So sad and shameful on those individuals who posts these things.

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26 replies
rrsavage June 05 2014 at 8:00 AM

I never read comments and 99% of these comments are examples of exactly why I shouldn't. I am disgusted - angry - while a very small voice whispers "these are "jokes" of the most disgusting and offensive nature."
Do you KNOW ANYTHING about aviation - particularly military aviation? YES the pilot is trained to "aim" the aircraft away from populated areas when every other option has failed. "Aiming" however is not always successful when the aircraft departs controlled flight.
The pilot was "rolling back and forth" - likely he ejected at a very low level. The seat is designed to work at 0 altitude, but the impact on landing is significant. Spinal compression from ejection and a sudden impact with the ground - this pilot is injured. There will be an investigation. There are 1,000s of aircraft and human (non-pilot) factors that could have brought down this aircraft.
Obama-Mexicans-ET - none were causal factors. Celebrate with his family that he survived.

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6 replies
ChingOW Mango June 05 2014 at 12:50 AM

How horrible! God bless all those involved. Wondering what went wrong.

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6 replies
msfeb14 June 05 2014 at 2:29 AM

Does anyone realize that we will see every accident, storm, or challenged person to get away from anything pointing to Obama's latest gaff? No, I don't suppose you will.

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21 replies
Kim Ann June 05 2014 at 2:10 AM

"He didn't look like he was injured. He was rolling from side to side," and a police officer and others were helping him, Santos said.
SEEMS HE WAS HURT IF HE WAS ROLLING from side to side. I hope no one was in the houses.

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3 replies
Glenn June 05 2014 at 8:07 AM

Some of the statements on here make me realize how unintelligent you have to be to use a computer.

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blo2thehead June 05 2014 at 1:11 AM

If you believe you are going to crash in a residential neighborhood do you ditch the plane or do you ride it out and try to crash somewhere clear of houses and people.
Tough call.

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25 replies
marilyneb7900 June 05 2014 at 7:06 AM

How terrible. Seeing a jet fall from the sky has to be terrifying. I do hope those houses were empty and am thankful the pilot is ok.

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stephen284 June 05 2014 at 10:17 AM

Hey you, "Click" on the watch video buton so we can show you a worthless commercial, before showing you the very short video of nothing.

For those aviation challenged, who get all their information from video games and movies, a pilot never leave a perfectly good plane. Unlike in the movies, departing controlled flight is not easily dealt with. Sometimes it is impossible to recover the aircraft. In that case you ride it as far as you can control it. After that you'd have to be stupid to not leave the aircraft. Yes, you attempt to minimize ground damage, but there is a point where that is no longer possible.

This pilot "ejected" relatively close to the ground. That means he stayed with the aircraft as long as he could. Although ejection seats have improved, this pilot likely suffered spinal injuries; they may end his career. To those who are bashing this pilot for ejecting and not getting killed in the crash, you're pretty lame. Likely you're the type who does nothing to help anyone

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3 replies
Connie June 05 2014 at 8:16 AM

Unbelievable series of comments here. A "jerk" for not riding the plane into the ground - as if he didn't try to avoid a residential area? How do you know he didn't try to avoid the area? "Hover like a helicopter" - not exactly - a helo flies on its rotary wing, the Harrier is up their on pure jet blast power and is unstable as all get out. Comments about 9/11 and Obama - really? They have nothing to do with the price of tea in China, Guess what folks - it was an accident!

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