Photos: Marine Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Imperial homes burn as Harrier crashes into residential area

 

 
 
 

| Thursday, June 5, 2014

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Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Marine jet crashes onto homes in Imperial.
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IMPERIAL, Calif. (AP) — A military jet slammed into a Southern California neighborhood dense with homes and exploded in flames, but the pilot and everyone on the ground emerged unscathed, officials said.

Moments after the pilot ejected to safety Wednesday afternoon, the Harrier jet went down in a residential area of Imperial and destroyed two homes and heavily damaged a third.

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Eleven-year-old Christopher Garcia was watching TV with his father and brother when he heard a frightening boom. Outside, he said he saw a pilot in a parachute falling from the sky, and what looked like a mushroom cloud of dark smoke two blocks away.

He ran to the crash scene to find one house with a collapsed roof, the neighboring house on fire, and a crying woman shouting, "That's my house!" The boy and other witnesses said panicked neighbors were running in every direction.

Debris from the Harrier jet hit the roof of one of the houses, which was destroyed, Marine Lt Col John Ferguson said. The subsequent explosion and fire destroyed another house and badly damaged one more.

The pilot, the only one aboard the aircraft, landed in a nearby field. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation and released, Ferguson said.

Jose Santos had seen the jet go down and was driving to the crash scene when he saw the pilot "rolling from side to side," but looking unhurt.

Leonardo Olmeda, 25, was racing remote-controlled cars in a street with many children playing when they saw the pilot eject and the nearby explosion.

"It was a big flash, a bunch of black smoke, like a mushroom effect," Olmeda said.

The Harrier AV-8B had taken off from Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma and was almost at his destination at Naval Air Facility El Centro when he ejected and the jet crashed for reasons not immediately clear, Ferguson said.

It came down in the yard on a street lined with small homes on one side with a large park on the other in Imperial, a city of about 15,000 near the U.S.-Mexico border about 90 miles east of San Diego.

Residents of eight more homes had to evacuate for the investigation and cleanup but later returned, officials said.

A few hours later, the military said a Navy Hornet crashed into the sea as it prepared to make a late-night landing on an aircraft carrier, but the pilot ejected and was listed in stable condition.

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.

And in July, 2012 another AV-8B Harrier crashed in an unpopulated area 15 miles from the air base, which is among the busiest in the world for the Marine Corps, and is used it to train military aviators from around the nation.

___

Hamilton reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writers Bob Jablon and Andrew Dalton also contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

This photo provided by Jose Santos shows a fire caused when a military jet crashed in a residential neighborhood in Imperial, Calif., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Witnesses say two houses caught fire after the crash. (AP Photo/Jose Santos)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

This photo provided by Jose Santos shows a fire caused when a military jet crashed in a residential neighborhood in Imperial, Calif., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Witnesses say two houses caught fire after the crash. (AP Photo/Jose Santos)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Firefighters work near houses after a Marine jet crashed in a residential area in the desert community of Imperial, Calif., setting two homes on fire Wednesday, June 4, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Chelcey Adami)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

This frame grab made from video provided by Isaac Ramos shows firefighters putting out a fire caused when a military jet crashed in a residential neighborhood in Imperial, Calif., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Witnesses say two houses caught fire after the crash. (AP Photo/Issac Ramos)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Firefighters work near houses after a Marine jet crashed in a residential area in the desert community of Imperial, Calif., setting two homes on fire Wednesday, June 4, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Chelcey Adami)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Smoke and flames rise after a Marine jet crashed into a residential area in the desert community of Imperial, Calif., setting two homes on fire Wednesday, June 4, 2014. 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. (AP Photo/Imperial Valley Press, Chelcey Adami)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Water is sprayed onto buildings after a Marine jet crashed into a residential area in the desert community of Imperial, Calif., setting two homes on fire Wednesday, June 4, 2014. 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. AP Photo/Imperial Valley Press, Chelcey Adami)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

This photo provided by Isaac Ramos shows firefighters putting out a fire caused when a military jet crashed in residential neighborhood in Imperial, Calif., Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Witnesses say two houses caught fire after the crash. (AP Photo/Issac Ramos)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Officials stand outside a home in which the roof is burnt off after a Marine Harrier jet crashed into the neighborhood Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Imperial, Calif. Debris from the jet is on the ground to the right. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)


Gallery 1

Military Jet Crashes into California Neighborhood

Officials stand outside a home in which the roof is burnt off after a Marine Harrier jet crashed into the neighborhood Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Imperial, Calif. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)



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