Widower Mourns Loss of Family in Jet Crash

By: Elliot Spagat AP
By: Elliot Spagat AP

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A Korean immigrant whose wife, two young daughters and mother-in-law perished when a military jet crashed into his house said Tuesday he doesn't blame the pilot who safely ejected.

"I don't have any hard feelings," Dong Yun Yoon told reporters near a pile of rubble where his home stood a day before. "I know he did everything he could."

Yoon's family died Monday when a Marine pilot flying a twin-engine F/A-18D Hornet crashed Monday into the middle-class neighborhood. Two homes were destroyed, three others damaged and four vehicles were torched.

Yoon, 37, said he is struggling to cope and sought help from people who have suffered "terrible things."

"Please tell me how to do it. I don't know what to do," he said, surrounded by his pastor, sister, brother and church members.

The Rev. Kevin Lee, associate pastor of the Korean United Methodist Church, identified the dead as Young Mi Yoon, 36; her daughters Grace, 15 months, and Rachel, 2 months, and her mother, Suk Im Kim, 60, who was visiting from Korea to help her daughter move across town and adjust to the arrival of her second child.

Dong Yun Yoon said he expected his father-in-law to arrive Wednesday and was not sure what to tell him.

"I don't know if he will ever forgive me," he said.

Dong Yun Yoon emigrated from South Korea in 1989, learning English and becoming a U.S. citizen, church leaders said. He helped run his brother-in-law's stores - a coffee shop in a San Diego beach neighborhood and a variety store near the Mexican border,
according to Michael Rose, a neighbor.

The Rev. Daniel Shin, the church pastor, said Yoon managed a variety store but didn't have more details about his employment.

The couple married four years ago, around the time his wife joined him from Korea, Shin said. Young Mi Yoon was a registered nurse in South Korea, worked in hospice care in San Diego, and had just received a certificate to be a nurse in the United States.

Young Mi Yoon, who was struggling to balance the demands of being a wife, mother and career woman, was deeply religious, according to neighbors and church leaders. She returned for her first service Sunday after an absence of about two months to care for her newborn.

"She said hi to everyone, 'Hi, I missed you, I'm finally here, I'm back,"' said the Rev. Kevin Lee, the church's associate pastor. "I never thought that would be the last time we'd see her."

Church leaders said she was more outgoing than her more Americanized husband. The family joined the church shortly before
Grace was born.

When the pastors visited Dong Yun Yoon at his sister's house Monday night in suburban Chula Vista, the widower thanked them for making the short drive and said his wife and daughters were "a blessing of God."

"We went with the intention to give him comfort but we couldn't say anything to comfort him," Lee said. "We just hugged and cried."

Neighbors knew little about the family because they moved so recently - a few weeks ago or a few months ago, depending on who you ask. They often saw Kim walking the quiet, curvy streets with a baby stroller.

The Yoons moved to the University City neighborhood because they outgrew their condominium and needed more space, Rose and church
leaders said. Relatives who had been living at the rented house for about 14 years moved out to make room for them.

Rose, who lives across the street, said Young Mi Moon spoke with him regularly, mostly recently on Sunday for about 20 minutes, using her limited English to tell him about her family and her career ambitions in nursing. She told him she worked as a nurse in Korea for 10 years.

Rose, 44, saw Yoon kiss his wife and baby goodbye in their driveway as he left for work Monday, about three hours before the jet fighter clipped a jacaranda tree, bounced off the pavement and crashed into the Yoons' home.

"I saw their last kiss," said Rose, a retired photographer. "I thought, 'What a beautiful sight,' and then later in the day they were just gone."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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