Seven Marines killed in Calif. helicopter crash

Seven Marines were killed when two helicopters collided near the California-Arizona border during a training exercise Wednesday night, military officials said.

The Marines aboard the two helicopters killed in the crash were part of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing based at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County.

The Marines were taking part in a training mission just outside the Yuma, Ariz., training area in southeastern California, when the Huey and Cobra helicopters collided in mid-air at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Gunnery Sgt. Dustin Dunk, a spokesman at Air Station Yuma, confirmed to The Hill. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Dunk said the training exercise was a routine operation that was taking place in a remote portion of the training complex.

The identities of the Marines killed have not been released pending notification of next of kin. The cause of the crash is under investigation, Dunk said.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement on the crash that "this tragedy is a grave reminder of the sacrifices the men and women of our armed forces make to keep us safe – both in training here at home and in combat abroad.”

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) said it was a tragic day for Arizona. "With a sad and heavy heart, I ask you to join me in praying for these Marines, their loved ones and all of our servicemen and women who risk their lives daily to protect ours,” she said in a statement.

— This post was updated at 1:08 p.m.