SANTA ANA — Doris See, a receptionist at Steelcase Inc. just south of Edinger Avenue near the Costa Mesa Freeway, is used to spending her days beneath the deafening roar of low-flying aircraft.
"The planes go right over my head," said See, whose office is directly under the flight path of aircraft making their landing approach to John Wayne Airport. "It makes me feel like my life is in (somebody else's) hands, but I guess I'm very trusting."
Wednesday's crash of a private jet less than a mile from where she works has caused See to re-evaluate that trust. "It's just a little bit startling," she said of the tragedy.
Indeed, workers and business owners throughout the landing corridor describe the fatal accident as a wake-up call that has dramatically heightened their safety concerns. Some have even called for new evacuation procedures and therapy for those who are emotionally shaken.
"It's definitely on everybody's mind," said Mike Lakes, sales manager at Crevier BMW, about 150 feet from the crash site. "When you see them flying so low, you wonder whether it ever could happen, and now it's happened."
The county and cities have restricted land use in the landing corridor mostly to commercial and industrial businesses--to avoid noise complaints and lawsuits from homeowners, to comply with state noise regulations and to prevent tragedies involving residential neighborhoods.
But this is not the first time the issue of safety has been raised in connection with the landing corridor. Three years ago, during debate about a proposal to build a $75-million indoor sports arena in the area, an official with Caltrans' division of aeronautics warned of possible hazards posed by landing planes.
"We are particularly concerned about the potential safety impacts associated with concentrating such a large number of people beneath the approach to an airport as active as John Wayne Airport," Sandy Hesnard, environmental planner for the division, wrote in a letter to Santa Ana officials.
The final environmental report prepared for the city by the Keith Cos. of Costa Mesa, however, downplayed such concerns, a finding with which then-airport manager George Rebella seemed to concur.
"I don't think we felt as strongly . . . that it's a safety hazard," Rebella said at the time. "I don't think it's a safety issue per se. Generally, the crashes don't happen that far out on approach."
People who work in the landing corridor, however, aren't so sure. Some say the planes fly close enough for them to read the numbers on their fuselages.
"It's just so eerie," said Debra Dizon, a receptionist at Crevier BMW. "This was inevitable. It was almost a question of \o7 when\f7 it was going to happen because you hear them flying so low all the time. It's really scary. Sometimes you just want to duck for fear that you're going to get hit."
Some managers at Crevier are talking about revamping evacuation procedures in case of another emergency, Lakes said.
Jim Modica, a sales representative at the Commonwealth Volkswagen/Audi dealership nearby, said he would favor the intervention of therapists for witnesses who, like himself, were badly shaken by the crash.
"I'll probably be a little jittery every time one of those planes comes over," he said.
Steve Carpenter, assistant manager of Recreational Equipment Inc., a retail store separated from the crash site by a parking lot, said he wants something done about the hazard but isn't sure just what it should be.
"All the staff is talking about it now," he said. "It's just like the fires when they get real close--you don't think about it until it happens. Maybe we \o7 do\f7 have an issue we need to talk about."
Times staff writer Jeffrey A. Perlman contributed to this report.