By Mary Slosson
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The surviving relatives of four family members killed when a Marine fighter jet crashed into their San Diego home in 2008 were awarded $17.8 million by a federal judge on Wednesday.
Don Yoon, who lost his wife, his mother-in-law and two of his children when an F/A-18D Hornet fighter jet crashed into and incinerated their home, was awarded $9.6 million by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, court documents show.
Yoon's father-in-law, Sanghyun Lee, 67, was awarded $3.7 million in the decision, according to the court papers. Yoon's three surviving children were awarded $1.5 million each.
Yoon was at work on December 8, 2008 when the fighter, which was approaching the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after taking off from an aircraft carrier during a training exercise, smashed into his home.
The crash killed his 36-year-old wife, Youngmi Lee Yoon, his daughters Grace Yoon, 15 months, and Rachel Yoon, 7 weeks, and his mother-in-law Seokim Kim-Lee, 59, who was visiting from South Korea to help take care of the children.
The pilot ejected from the plane before the crash and survived.
The United States admitted sole liability for the crash, fire, and deaths of those who perished, according to the court decision.
Yoon's older brother testified during a three-day trial in U.S. District Court in San Diego that his brother used to be funny, cracking jokes and playing with children. Now, he said, Yoon visits the graves of his family every day, and no longer smiles or sees people.
Yoon told the court that reuniting with his wife and daughters in death is "all I have to look forward to," according to court documents.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, who sought $56 million in damages, could not immediately be reached for comment.
A U.S. Department of Justice attorney representing the government in the case did not immediately respond to request for comment.
(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Tim Gaynor)