The pilot of a U.S. Marine Corps F-18 was killed Wednesday when the plane crashed near a British air base in eastern England, U.S. and British officials said, though his family in Hillsborough was too distraught to discuss his death.
The U.S. Embassy in London confirmed the death of the pilot, identified by his sister as Taj Sareen. When approached by NBC Bay Area on Wednesday night at their Peninsula home, his sister and mother were too devastated to comment.
Neighbors in Southern California said he lived in San Diego on a military base. And they couldn't believe that he had survived six months in Bahrain, only to die heading back home to California.
"He'd give you the shirt off his back," San Diego neighbor Jim Golden told NBC San Diego. "I'm devastated he's not here tonight."
His LinkedIn profile shows that he had been a Marine pilot since 2005, an agency analyst for New York Life Insurance Company and a development analyst for AOL. He also earned his bachelor's degree in political science and economics from the University of San Francisco, according to his resume, where he also played tennis.
No other casualties were reported.
The plane was an F-18C Hornet from Marine Attack Fighter Squadron 232 based in the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, the Marine Corps said. The jet was one of six going from Bahrain to Miramar when it went down six miles near Lakenheath airfield in eastern England, it added.
Cambridgeshire Police said it had taken off from the Lakenheath air base in eastern England. "There is believed to have been one person on board, and there has been one confirmed fatality," the force said.
Cambridgeshire Fire Services said the plane crashed on farm land in Redmere in Cambridgeshire, about 7 miles from Lakenheath.
The twin-engine F-18 comes in single-seat and two-seat versions.
A year ago, a U.S. Air Force F-15 crashed in a field near the air base. The pilot was not seriously hurt.
In January 2014 four U.S. Air Force crew members based at Lakenheath died when their helicopter hit a flock of geese and crashed during a training mission.