1 Marine dead, eight troops missing after training accident off Southern California coast

Luke Money July 31, 2020

The search continued Friday for eight service members who went missing following a deadly accident during a training exercise off San Clemente Island, officials said.

The incident occurred when an amphibious assault vehicle carrying 15 Marines and one Navy sailor began taking on water about 5:45 p.m. Thursday, according to the United States Marine Corps.

One Marine was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and later died. Two others were injured and taken to hospitals where they were listed in critical and stable condition, respectively.

Five other service members were rescued.

The Marines, with support from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, were still searching for the missing service members just after 3 p.m. Friday. "We have not moved into recovery operations," Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman said during an afternoon press conference. "We’re still looking for them."

Osterman said the amphibious assault vehicle, which weighs 26 tons, "sank completely" more than 1,000 meters offshore and "the assumption is it went all the way to the bottom."

"The AAV is actually in several hundred feet of water — it's really below the depth that a diver can go to," he said.

The name of the Marine who died will be withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin, officials said, and "all family members who are affected will be contacted directly by their Marines’ chain of command."

1 Marine has died, 8 service members remain missing and 2 were injured after an AAV mishap July 30 off the coast of Southern California. All are assigned to the 15th MEU. Search and rescue efforts are still underway with support from the Navy and Coast Guard.

There were 16 service members in the vehicle — 15 Marines and one sailor. All the Marines involved were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is based out of Camp Pendleton.