One Marine Dead, 8 Missing in Southern California Training Accident

A U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) takes part in a landing operation during a military Exercise Baltops 2018, at the Baltic Sea near Vilnius, Lithuania, on June 4, 2018. A training accident off the coast of Southern California in an AAV similar to this one has taken the life of one Marine, injured two others and left eight missing Thursday. In a Friday morning tweet, the Marines say search-and-rescue efforts are underway . (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis, File)

LOS ANGELES (CN) — U.S. Marine Corps officials said Friday one service member is dead and eight others are missing after a “mishap” during an amphibious assault training Thursday evening off the coast of San Clemente Island in Southern California. 

The incident occurred when water began seeping into an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) — a military vehicle used to transport service members from ships to land — during a routine training exercise around 5:45 p.m. Thursday, officials said. 

The AAV, which was carrying 15 Marines and one U.S. Navy sailor, was operating as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group based in San Diego, California.

After the “mishap” during the training, one Marine was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California where they were pronounced dead. The Marine’s identity is being withheld until relatives are notified, officials said. 

Two other service members who were injured in the incident were taken to nearby hospitals and one is listed in critical condition. 

Search and rescue teams with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard are assisting the effort to recover the eight missing service members, officials said Friday, adding that five service members have been rescued.

The Marines are assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

According to the unit’s website, they provide “a globally responsive, expeditionary, and fully scalable Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF), capable of generating, deploying, and employing ready forces and formations for crisis response, forward presence, major combat operations, and campaigns.”

Family members of service members who took to Twitter on Friday to inquire about their relatives were told by Marine Expeditionary Force officials that more information will be shared soon.

Adam Adkisson tweeted Friday that he has not received any updates about his son, who he said operates an AAV. 

“My son is there on the AAV’s,” Adkisson tweeted. “How the hell do I get any answers?”

MEF officials tweeted in response, “All family members who are affected will be contacted directly by their Marines’ chain of command.”

Col. Christopher Bronzi, commanding officer of the 15th MEU, said in a statement Friday that officials are actively engaged in recovering missing service members. 

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” Bronzi said. “I ask that you keep our Marines, sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search.”

The U.S. Marine Corps said the incident is under investigation. 

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