The Marine Corps concluded its search for eight missing service members on Sunday, declaring them dead and releasing their identities.
The United States Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard spent 40 hours searching 1,000 square nautical miles for eight service members -- seven Marines and one sailor -- who went missing after an amphibious assault vehicle accident Thursday off the coast of southern California. On Sunday, the search was declared concluded, all eight were declared deceased and recovery efforts began.
“It is with a heavy heart, that I decided to conclude the search and rescue effort,” Col. Christopher Bronzi, 15th MEU Commanding Officer said in a Marine Corps news release. “The steadfast dedication of the Marines, Sailors, and Coast Guardsmen to the persistent rescue effort was tremendous.”
The AAV had 16 onboard in total -- the other seven were rescued and two were hospitalized.
“Our thoughts and prayers have been, and will continue to be with our Marines’ and sailor’s families during this difficult time,” said Bronzi. “As we turn to recovery operations we will continue our exhaustive search for our missing Marines and sailor.”
An investigation into the accident is ongoing and the Marine Corps has suspended all AAV water operations.