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 U.S. Marine Corps McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II jet went down in a residential area of Imperial and destroyed two homes and heavily damaged a third.
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.
For the complete story by Elliot Spagat and Matt Hamilton of The Associated Press, click here.