1 dead, 8 missing as Marine vehicle sinks
One Marine is dead and seven Marines and a sailor are missing after a mishap Thursday night in which an armored vehicle designed to float took on water off the coast of Southern California and sunk in several hundred feet of water, authorities said Friday.
There were 15 Marines and a Navy sailor in the vehicle Thursday evening when it started taking on water as it traveled from the shores of San Clemente Island to a Navy ship, said Lt. Cameron H. Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesman for Camp Pendleton.
Of those who survived, two Marines are in critical condition and five have returned to their unit at sea, officials said.
Military ships, small boats and helicopters were searching choppy seas Friday for the missing amid moderate to strong winds. The Navy-owned island is about 70 miles from San Diego.
All of the Marines on the vehicle, which resembles a seafaring tank, were assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and were involved in a routine military exercise, the Marine Corps said.
Gen. David Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, announced that the Corps will suspend all waterborne operations in the vehicle involved, a 26-ton amphibious assault vehicle. They are designed to carry up to 24 people in assaults from ships to shore.
Thursday’s accident marks the third time in less than a decade that Camp Pendleton Marines have been injured or died in amphibious assault vehicles during training exercises.