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Trial begins over compensation for Marine crash that killed four

December 12, 2011 |  8:18 pm


A trial began Monday in San Diego federal court to determine how much the federal government should pay the survivors of four family members killed in the Dec. 8, 2008, crash of a Marine F/A-18D Hornet into a residential neighborhood.

The Marine Corps has admitted that the crash was caused by a mechanical malfunction and a decision by the pilot, based on bad instructions from ground officers, to skip a safe landing at North Island Naval Air Station.

The pilot was trying to land at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, 11 miles away from North Island. He was on a training flight from aboard the carrier Abraham Lincoln. He bailed out and was uninjured.

Dong Yun Yoon, 40, a retail store manager, was at work when the plane crashed into his home in the University City neighborhood, killing his wife, mother-in-law and daughters, ages 15 months and seven weeks. The four died instantly as the home was destroyed by fire.

Yoon immigrated from South Korea in 1989 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. His father-in-law came to San Diego from Korea for the trial, telling Judge Jeffrey Miller, through a translator, that the crash "took away all my dreams."

After a Marine Corps investigation, four squadron officers were relieved of duty, and eight other Marines and a sailor were reprimanded. The pilot was grounded after the crash but later reinstated to flying status as a trainee.

The day after the crash, Yoon, standing beside his minister, said he bore no ill will toward the pilot. The judge-only trial is set to take two days.

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Firefighters at the scene of the Marine F/A-18D crash in the University City neighborhood of San Diego. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times