Thunder, flames in San Diego as jet crash kills 3

Mass Casualties Posted on

Residents near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar are accustomed to loud, low-flying military jets, but they immediately knew something was wrong when they heard the skies thunder. The explosions came moments later.

After the pilot safely ejected, an 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. Three people — a mother, her baby and a grandmother — were killed, fire and coroner's officials said. Another young child was missing, and rescue crews planned to resume searching at daybreak Tuesday.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner said on its Web site that it had tentatively identified each of the victims and was in contact with family members for further confirmation. No names were released.

Two homes were destroyed and three damaged in the neighborhood of half-million dollar houses.

"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 pickup truck caught fire after a driver ran over flaming debris and yelled that his gas tank was full as he fled the vehicle.

Terri Scheidt, who was wrapping Christmas presents, heard an "unbelievably loud" sound, followed by explosions. She saw two homes engulfed in flames when she ran around the corner.

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