USA

US Personnel 'Presumed Dead' Off California Coast Named

The incident happened near San Clemente Island on Thursday.

The names of a US Marine who was killed and others who are "presumed dead" following a training incident off the coast of southern California have been released.

The incident happened on Thursday last week, after what was first described as a "mishap" involving an amphious assault vehicle.

All personnel involved in the incident were assigned to 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, a statement by 1st Marine Expeditionary Force said.

The force said they were carrying out shore-to-ship waterborne training operations near San Clemente Island - a US Navy-owned island about 70 miles offshore from San Diego - when the incident happened.

Officials confirmed at the time that one service member had died at the scene - he has now been named as 20-year-old Lance Corporal Guillermo S. Perez.

Eight other personnel - one a US Navy sailor - were later "presumed deceased" after an extensive search and rescue mission was called off over the weekend.

They have been named as: 

  • Private First Class Bryan J. Baltierra
  • Lance Corporal Marco A. Barranco
  • Private First Class Evan A. Bath
  • US Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem
  • Private First Class Jack Ryan Ostrovsky
  • Corporal Wesley A. Rodd
  • Lance Corporall Chase D. Sweetwood
  • Corporal Cesar A. Villanueva

All were in their late teens or early 20s.

US Navy Seahawk helicopters take off from USS Makin Island to conduct search and rescue efforts off the southern California coast (Picture: US Department of Defense).

1st Marine Expeditionary Force said in a statement on Monday morning, UK time, that 16 personnel were on board the amphibious attack vehicle when it reported it was taking on water.

One marine was taken from the scene to Scripps Memorial Hospital, San Diego, in a critical condition, the force said.

Another crew member was also taken to the hospital in a critical condition but is now said to be stable. 

Five marines were also rescued after the incident. 

Several US Navy helicopters and vessels were involved with the search, as well as the Coastguard.

A full investigation into the incident is underway.

Cover image: US marines and sailors conduct search and rescue efforts following the incident of the coast of Southern California (Picture: US Department of Defense).