CALIFORNIA—An amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) mishap occurred off the coast of Southern California on Thursday, July 30, resulting in the death of one Marine and the injury of two other service members, authorities reported.
The Marines, who were part of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) at Camp Pendleton, were out in the water doing a routine training exercise near San Clemente Island when the incident occurred. According to the Marine Corps press conference that was held on Friday, July 31, the AAV was over one thousand meters offshore.
Lt. Brian Tuthill, spokesperson of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, said there were 16 people in the vehicle, one of them a sailor, and only eight of them have been recovered.
The deceased Marine, whose name has been withheld, was pronounced dead at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Among the service members that were injured, one was listed as being in critical condition.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search,” said Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer, in a public statement.
According to Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, the service members were in their usual combat gear, which includes an inflatable vest. Two AAV’s and a safety boat were near the vehicle and provided assistance. They were able to rescue eight Marines, some of whom were floating.
With the help of helicopters from the U.S. Navy, several United States Ships and the Coast Guard, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit were still in searching and rescuing efforts on Friday.
“Representatives have notified all families of the Marines and Sailor involved in Thursday’s tragedy. We have covered more than 200 square nautical miles in the extensive search for our 8 missing service members. All efforts are committed to the #15thmeurecovery,” read an update of the 15th MEU on Twitter.