Search continues for servicemen after California coaching accident

The search continued Saturday for eight service members who went lacking following a lethal accident throughout a coaching train off San Clemente Island, officers mentioned.

The amphibious assault automobile is underneath a whole lot of ft of water, placing it past the attain of divers and complicating rescue efforts for the lacking troops.

Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the commanding basic of the Marine Expeditionary Pressure, informed reporters Friday that the automobile, which weighs 26 tons, “sank fully” greater than three,200 ft offshore and “the belief is it went all the best way to the underside.”

“The AAV is definitely in a number of hundred ft of water — it’s actually under the depth diver can go to,” he mentioned.

The incident occurred when the automobile carrying 15 Marines and one Navy sailor started taking up water about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, in line with the Marine Corps.

One Marine was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and later died. Two others have been injured and stay hospitalized however are now not in intensive care.

5 different service members have been rescued.

The Marines, with assist from the Navy and Coast Guard, have been nonetheless trying to find the lacking service members late Friday afternoon.

“We’ve not moved into restoration operations,” Osterman mentioned. “We’re nonetheless in search of them.”

The Marine Corps commandant, Gen. David H. Berger, mentioned that despite the fact that the search was persevering with, the main focus now ought to be on the troops and their households. He added that he was suspending waterborne operations of all the greater than 800 amphibious assault autos throughout the Marines till the reason for the accident is set. He mentioned the transfer was out of “an abundance of warning.”

The identify of the Marine who died will likely be withheld till 24 hours after notification of subsequent of kin, officers mentioned, and “all members of the family who’re affected will likely be contacted instantly by their Marines’ chain of command.”

All of the Marines concerned have been assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is predicated out of Camp Pendleton.

“We’re deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you just preserve our Marines, sailors and their households in your prayers as we proceed our search,” Col. Christopher J. Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, mentioned in a press release.

The incident is underneath investigation, in line with the Marines. It occurred throughout what officers known as a “15th MEU and Makin Island Amphibious Prepared Group routine coaching train within the neighborhood of San Clemente Island” — a Navy-owned land mass about 70 miles off the San Diego County coast.

They’d simply accomplished a routine coaching train and have been heading again to the Navy ship with a dozen different amphibious assault autos, Osterman mentioned.

Troops onboard two different amphibious assault autos responded rapidly however couldn’t cease the automobile from sinking, Osterman mentioned.

San Diego Union-Tribune workers writers Andrew Dyer and Phil Diehl and the Related Press contributed to this report.