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Old 06-16-2005, 05:26 AM
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Default Marine Jet Crashes Into Backyard


A Marine jet carrying four 500-pound bombs crashed into the backyard of a home during a training exercise, but the pilot ejected safely and only one person on the ground was slightly injured, authorities said.

Nearly 1,300 homes were evacuated Wednesday while a military explosives team dismantled the bombs at the crash site in Yuma, about 185 miles southwest of Phoenix. Most people were allowed to return home by late evening.

The Harrier jet was coming in for a landing at Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma when it crashed and burst into flames about a mile from the base, Marine Cpl. Michael Nease said.

"I was just sitting here. It was a low soaring sound. It got real low, it was like a rumbling and I heard an explosion," said Marita Jane Wichman, who lives about four houses away from where the crash occurred.

The jet was carrying four 500-pound bombs and 300 rounds of 25-milimeter ammunition, none of which exploded. Two homes had some structural damage, Nease said.

One unidentified person suffered a minor arm laceration but apparently no one else was taken to the hospital as a result of the crash, authorities said.

The pilot, who was based out of Yuma and returning from a training mission, was "up walking around" after ejecting, Nease said. His name was not released.

The Marines were investigating the accident but had not determined a cause, Nease said.

Wichman and her 82-year-old mother-in-law refused to evacuate, even though they were urged to do so by authorities.

"Like I say, I'm 82. I'm ready to go. I don't want to leave my animals," O'Neill said. "My contention is if it was going to explode, it should've exploded on impact."

The AV-8B Harrier, a light attack aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter, was the fourth such jet from the Yuma air station to crash in recent years. A Harrier crashed in Yuma on Dec. 2 and another two crashed in December 2003. In each of the cases, the pilots ejected safely.

The wreckage of a Marine Harrier jet is shown in this image from video.
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