Marine relieved of duty after AAV accident killed several military members off coast of Southern CaliforniaOctober 14, 2020
The Marines have relieved one of their own after several military members were killed in an accident when an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) sunk off the coast of San Clemente Island in Southern California earlier this summer, officials said Tuesday.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael J. Regner, Commanding Officer, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), was let go because of a “loss in trust and confidence in his ability to command” in connection to the accident on July 30, according to a press release.
Military teams had located the sunken AAV as well as human remains in August after an extensive search of the area.
The AAV involved in the accident was transferring 15 Marines and one sailor from the shores of San Clemente Island near San Diego to a Navy ship when the AAV began to sink. Eight Marines were rescued after the accident and one was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Marines were attached to the 15th MEU, based at Camp Pendleton.
Tuesday’s press release said “a substantial amount of information and data” from the accident had been collected and that an investigation is still ongoing.
“The Marines and Sailors of the 15th MEU continue to train in preparation for crisis and contingency response,” the statement read.
Officials with the 15th MEU identified the personnel involved in the accident. The service member whose body was recovered was Marine Lance Corporal Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas. He was pronounced dead at the scene before being transported by helicopter to Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego. Perez was a rifleman with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/4, 15th MEU.
The missing were identified as: Private First Class Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, California; Lance Corporal Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California; Corporal Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California; U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California; Private First Class Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin; Private First Class Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon; Corporal Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas; and Lance Corporal Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Oregon.
David Martin contributed to this report.
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