Sailor and 8 Marines Killed in Training Accident Off Calif. Coast Identified by Military Officials



Following the tragedy, some of the victims' loved ones spoke out about their heartbreak.

Baltierra's mother, Evelyn, noted that her son died on the one-year anniversary of his Marine Corps enlistment and said he always dreamed of serving from the time he was a young boy, The Orange County Register reported.

"He was able to achieve his dream," she told the outlet, adding that he was always positive, and popular with everyone he met. "There were always lots of smiles and laughs with whomever he was with."

"As his parents, my husband and I always [worried] about his safety — but we had full confidence that he was going to be in good hands with the Marines," Evelyn added.

A total of 15 Marines and one sailor were involved in Thursday's accident, which occurred inside an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) during a 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group routine training exercise near San Clemente Island.

According to the United States Naval Institution, the AAV has been the "primary infantry sea-to-land transport vehicle since the 1970s," and the Marines are currently testing its replacement.

Five Marines were rescued and brought aboard USS Somerset, while search and rescue efforts were launched with help from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard to search for the eight missing service members.

On Saturday, the MEU, MEF, and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group announced they had concluded the extensive 40-hour search, which spanned more than 1,000 square nautical miles.

The incident remains under investigation by officials, according to the press release.

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