1 dead, 8 miss­ing as Ma­rine ve­hi­cle sinks

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION - — Dan Lamothe and As­so­ci­ated Press

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.

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