Cleanup efforts and on-site investigations at the scene of this week's deadly crash of a fighter jet in University City will take at least seven days, and possibly twice that long, Marine Corps officials said Wednesday.
Masked military personnel spent the day combing through the scorched rubble of two homes leveled when the disabled F/A-18D Hornet plunged into a residential area at Cather Avenue and Huggins Street just before noon Monday, moments after the pilot safely ejected.
Killed in the crash were Young Mi Yoon, 36; her daughters, Grace and Rachel Yoon, who were 15 months and 2 months old, respectively; and her 60-year-old mother, Suk Im Kim.
Yoon's husband and father of the girls, Don Yoon, 37, was at work at the time of the crash.
The second house demolished in the fiery plane wreck was unoccupied at the time. Three other homes sustained varying amounts of damage.
The pilot of the jet, who was on a training mission off the carrier Abraham Lincoln, had been ordered to fly to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar rather than return to the ship after one of its engines failed.
A witness who spoke with the flier minutes after the crash said the serviceman told him the aircraft's second engine went out as he neared the military base, forcing him to bail out.
The pilot parachuted into the neighborhood near University City High School, landing in a tree and getting briefly hung up in its branches. He was taken to a hospital for an evaluation and released that evening.
Authorities have withheld his name, but KOGO, quoting an unnamed Marine Corps source, identified him as Lt. Dan Neubauer, 28.
The disaster left about a half-dozen homes near the two gutted houses temporarily uninhabitable. Most of the affected residents were able to return by Tuesday evening.
The Marine Corps has taken charge of the cordoned-off crash scene, said USMC Cpl. Frances Goch of the MCAS Miramar public affairs office.
The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is heading the probe into the cause of the accident, she said. Investigators from the Naval Safety Center traveled from Norfolk, Va., are assisting in gathering evidence.
County hazardous-materials personnel were aiding the military in making sure no toxic substances, including remnants of fiberglass and jet fuel, create public health hazards.
Military officials initially predicted they would be at the scene for five to seven days, but have since revised that timeline upwards to as much as two weeks.
Authorities have cautioned anyone finding debris from the downed jet not to touch it and to notify the Marine Corps by calling (858) 577-1727.
From 7:30 to 8:30 Wednesday evening, the victims' house of worship, Korean United Methodist Church, 3520 Mount Acadia Blvd., is holding a memorial service for the late members of the Yoon family. The public is invited.