5 Marines killed in aircraft crash in California identified

GLAMIS, Calif. — Five U.S. Marines died Wednesday when a military aircraft crashed during a training mission in southeastern California, officials said.

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Update 10:55 p.m. EDT June 10: Officials on Friday identified the five Marines killed in Wednesday’s military aircraft crash in California.

Officials with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said those killed included three tiltrotor crew chiefs: 21-year-old Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson of Winnebago, Illinois; 21-year-old Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson of Johnson, Wyoming and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.

Two MV-22B pilots, identified as 31-year-old Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio of Rockingham, New Hampshire, and 33-year-old Capt. John J. Sax of Placer, California, were also killed, officials said.

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of five Marines from the Purple Fox family,” Lt. Col. John C. Miller, commanding officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor (VMM) Squadron 364, said in a statement. “This is an extremely difficult time for VMM-364 and it is hard to express the impact that this loss has had on our squadron and its families.

“Our primary mission now is taking care of the family members of our fallen Marines and we respectfully request privacy for their families as they navigate this difficult time. We appreciate all the prayers and support from the strong extended Purple Fox family and want them to know that more information will be forthcoming on how to help.”

Authorities are investigating the deadly crash.

Update 1:25 p.m. EDT June 9: Authorities on Thursday confirmed that five Marines died one day earlier in an “aviation mishap” involving an MV-22 Osprey near Glamis, California.

The names of the Marines, who were with Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, were not immediately released.

“We mourn the loss of our Marines in this tragic mishap,” Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the their families and friends as they cope with this tragedy.”

Authorities are investigating the incident.

Update 9:18 p.m. EDT June 8: According to the Marine Corps, an MV-22B Osprey belonging to 3rd Marine Air Wing crashed near Glamis, California, spokesperson First Lt. Duane Kampa confirmed to KSWB-TV.

“We can confirm that an aircraft belonging to 3d Marine Aircraft Wing crashed near Glamis, California,” the Marines said in a statement. “Military and civilian first responders are on site. Contrary to social media rumors, there was no nuclear material on board the aircraft.”

The aircraft was based at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, KSWB-TV reported. There were five Marines on the aircraft, spokesperson First Lt. Duane Kampa confirmed to the television station.

“We are awaiting confirmation on the status of all members of the crew,” Kampa told the television station in an email.

Aviation expert and crash investigator Richard Martindell told KSWB that Ospreys seem to have a higher crash rate.

“Looking at the Air Force statistics for the Osprey, they’re running about a 6.0 per hundred thousand hours accident rate which is high,” Martindell told the television station. “Most transport aircraft run around under 2.0, so that’s three times the transport aircraft number.”

Original report: The aircraft went down in the northeastern part of Imperial County, a Navy spokesperson and a member of the Imperial County Fire Department confirmed to the Calexico Chronicle.

Radio scanner chatter identified the aircraft as a V-22 Osprey with five crew members on board, the newspaper reported. On its Facebook page, Naval Air Facility El Centro said it had “just received reports of a downed aircraft” in the area.

The facility’s public affairs officer, Kristopher Haugh, told The Associated Press that officials were still gathering details.

The crash occurred southeast of the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, a large bombing range operated by the U.S. Marine Corps, near State Route 78 and Coachella Canal Road, KYMA-TV reported.

The site is about 115 miles east of San Diego, according to the AP.

Imperial County Fire Chief Alfredo Estrada was en route to a staging area and did not have any confirmed information beyond the general location of the crash, the Chronicle reported. Estrada was alerted to the downed aircraft by Naval Air Facility El Centro, according to the newspaper.

According to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma’s Facebook page, there are MV-22 Ospreys based out of the station, the Chronicle reported.