Dec 082008
Authors: Madeline Novey

At about 4 p.m. Monday, Steven Benton, a senior art major and creative services student manager for the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation, looked at his Samsung phone to find a message from his older sister, Jenny Fischer, creative services manager for RMSMC.

“Fighter jet just crashed into UC,” it read.

UC, or University City, is Benton’s childhood neighborhood in North-eastern San Diego, Calif., and when the jet, an F/A-18 fighter, crashed into the area moments earlier, it took down two houses and killed three people.

Steven, however, wasn’t concerned.

His parents, Lorraine and Paul Benton, 56 and 55, respectively, were both at work when the fighter jet, returning to Miramar Field after a training exercise, crashed into the middle of the street.

“I was terrified,” Paul Benton said of the moment when a co-worker asked “Don’t you live near this crash?,” after calling him over to look at a picture posted on The San Diego Union-Tribune Web site.

“I said, ‘what crash,’ of course, and when he showed me a picture on the local Web news, I recognized some of the houses in the picture,” he said. However, the pictures squelched his fear, and he went back to work moments later.

Although Steven Benton said he wasn’t worried about his parents’ safety, he said he was concerned about some of his high school friends who lived in the area around University City High School. There, according to Paul Benton, witnesses told his wife they saw the jet pilot land after ejecting.

“It’s one of those things where anyone in the community knows someone who was affected,” Steven Benton said, describing UC as a relatively small neighborhood.

Michael Outcalt, a CSU senior global tourism major, also received a text message about the disaster from his father, Daniel Outcalt, 50, who lives about 10 miles from the crash site with his wife, who is Michael’s stepmother.

Michael Outcalt said he gave his father a call back immediately after class, and they discussed the details of the crash.

“It’s a crazy incident that happened,” Michael Outcalt said, noting that California residents had to battle wild fires just last fall. “Seems like a bizarre event to hear an F-18 pass through the houses where my parents live.”

Assistant News Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at

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