Marines find human remains, vehicle that sunk in California training accident

The Marine Corps has found the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) that sunk off the coast of Southern California last week, killing nine service members, the service said Tuesday.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group found the AAV on Monday, according to a I MEF news release.

The Navy’s Undersea Rescue Command also found human remains on board by using an underwater remotely operated video system from a merchant ship, the release added.

The AAV, which is used for amphibious troop transports, sunk Thursday after taking on water during a training exercise off the coast of San Clemente Island.

The vehicle sunk to a depth of about 385 feet, Tuesday’s release said.

One Marine, identified as 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Seven other Marines and a Navy sailor were reported missing after the accident. Officials announced Sunday they are presumed dead.

Those presumed dead were identified as Pfc. Bryan Baltierra, 19; Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco, 21; Pfc. Evan Bath, 19; U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22; Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21; Cpl. Wesley Rodd, 23; Lance Cpl. Chase Sweetwood, 19; and Cpl. Cesar Villanueva, 21.

The Navy is expediting sending equipment to recover the remains and bring up the AAV, with the equipment expected to be in place by the end of the week, the news release said. 

Two other Marines were injured in the accident. Sixteen service members were on board the vehicle at the time of the incident.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

President Trump offered his condolences in a tweet Tuesday.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of eight Marines and one Sailor during a training exercise off the coast of California,” he tweeted. “Our prayers are with their families. I thank them for the brave service their loved ones gave to our Nation. #SemperFidelis”

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