Korean Widower Doesn't Blame Pilot for F-18 Crash
Wednesday, December 10, 2008 |
AP/Korean United Methodist Church of San Diego
Dec. 9: Young Mi Yoon, left, and her husband Dong Yun Yoon.
A Korean immigrant whose family was killed when an F-18 crashed into his house returned home to survey the rubble and said he doesn't blame the military pilot who survived the accident.
Dong Yun Yoon, 37, lost his wife, two baby daughters and mother-in-law after a Marine Corps fighter plane clipped a tree and plummeted into houses about two miles from base. The pilot safely ejected and was rescued hanging by his parachute from a tree.
"I pray for him not to suffer for this action," Yoon said at a news conference, according to The Los Angeles Times. "I know he's one of our treasures for our country."
Several houses caught fire. Two homes were incinerated in the crash and three others were damaged.
The family's pastor, the Rev. Kevin Lee of the Korean United Methodist Church in San Diego, identified three of the victims as Young Mi Yoon, 36; her 2-month-old daughter, Rachel; and her mother, Suk Im Kim, 60,who was visiting from South Korea to help care for her daughter's newborn.
The body of 15-month-old Grace Yoon, Rachel's sister, was found in the home Tuesday, Fire Department spokesman Maurice Luque said. No one else remained missing.
"I believe my wife and two babies and mother-in-law are in heaven with God," said Yoon.
The San Diego County medical examiner's office has not officially released the names of the victims.
The pilot was taken to a naval hospital in stable condition. Miramar officials declined to say whether he remained hospitalized, but witnesses said he appeared unhurt.
"I don't have any hard feelings," Yoon told reporters near the ruins where his home once stood and three generations of his family died. "I know he did everything he could."
Yoon, who left Korea in 1989 and became a U.S. citizen, wondered aloud how he would persevere after losing his family.
"Please tell me how to do it," he said, surrounded by his pastor, sister, brother and church members. "I don't know what to do."
Meanwhile, a high-ranking congressman called on the Marine Corps Tuesday to release the maintenance records of all fighter jets of the type that lost power and crashed into the San Diego neighborhood.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said the fiery crash Monday of the F/A-18D Hornet fighter as it approached Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was apparently caused by power failure.
"My understanding ... is that the engines failed, causing the aircraft to lose thrust," said Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper.
The crash was probably unrelated to the previous discovery of cracks in hinges on the wings of more than a dozen of the $57 million aircraft, the San Diego-area congressman said.
"It is important that we gain a complete understanding of what went wrong," Hunter said in a statement.
Marine Cpl. Travis Easter said officials at Miramar had no immediate response to the request for maintenance records.
The Navy announced last month that it was grounding 10 of the planes and limiting the flights of 20 others because of the cracks. It was not immediately clear whether the plane that crashed in San Diego was under any flight restrictions.
Neighbors said the family of Korean immigrants had moved into the area about three months ago.
Resident Choko McConnell, 85, a widow who lives down the street, said she often saw the grandmother pushing a child in a stroller.
"I cried all night," McConnell said. "A family perished, a young family."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.