Military calls off search for missing service members after amphibious vehicle accident off coast of California

Seven Marines and one Navy sailor were presumed dead Sunday after the military called off its search for the group.
SAN DIEGO -- Seven Marines and one Navy sailor are presumed dead Sunday after the military called off its search for the group, which went missing after an amphibious vehicle sank during a training mission in California Thursday.

Navy and Coast Guard officials decided to end the effort after an extensive 40 hours.

RELATED: 1 Marine killed, 8 missing after amphibious vehicle accident off coast of San Clemente Island, officials say

All of the victims' next-of-kin have been notified. The names of the deceased troops are expected to be released within the next 24 hours.

There were 15 Marines and a Navy sailor in the vehicle around 5:45 p.m. Thursday when it started taking on water as it traveled from the shores of San Clemente Island to a Navy ship, said Lt. Cameron H. Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesman for Camp Pendleton, said at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Seven of the personnel were able to get out of the sinking land and sea-going vehicle and were pulled from the water.

One of the Marines rescued later died, and two others remain in critical condition.

The other rescued Marines received clean bills of health and returned to their units, officials said.

Thursday's accident marks the third time in less than a decade that Camp Pendleton Marines have been injured or died in amphibious assault vehicles during training exercises.


In 2017, 14 Marines and one Navy sailor were hospitalized after their vehicle hit a natural gas line, igniting a fire that engulfed the landing craft during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton, the sprawling coastal Marine Corps base north of San Diego.

And in 2011, a Marine died when an amphibious assault vehicle in a training exercise sank off the shores of Camp Pendleton.
The Marines use the vehicles to transport troops and their equipment from Navy ships to land. They are nicknamed "amtracs" because the original name for the vehicle was "amphibious tractor."

The armored vehicles outfitted with machine guns and grenade launchers look like tanks as they roll ashore for beach attacks, with Marines pouring out of them to take up positions.

The I Marine Expeditionary Force is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force whose mission is "generating, deploying, and employing ready forces and formations for crisis response, forward presence, major combat operations, and campaigns."
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.