The service members, assigned to the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), were undertaking a routine training exercise off the southern California coast when their assault amphibious vehicle began taking on water.
According to early reports, one Marine was pronounced dead at the scene while two others were taken to a nearby hospital; one is in critical condition and the other stable.
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The vessel was carrying one sailor and 15 Marines from the 15th MEU, which is based at Camp Pendleton, the west coast’s largest Marine base.
After the accident, a massive sea and air search was launched, with a Navy destroyer, coast guard cutter and various small boats complemented by three naval helicopters and a coast guard helicopter.
The 15th MEU’s commanding officer, Col. Christopher Bronzi, expressed his pain at the incident. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident,” he said. “I ask that you keep our Marines, Sailors, and their families in your prayers as we continue our search.”