Commander Fired Over Deadly Training Accident

By Michelle Wayland
|  Friday, Apr 15, 2011  |  Updated 7:15 AM PDT
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Divers Search for Submerged Military Vehicle

NBC San Diego

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Military Training Mission Gone Wrong

A marine was killed after an amphibious assault vehicle sinks in a harbor at Camp Pendleton.

Marine Killed in Water Training Accident

Six Marines were inside an amphibious assault vehicle when it sank.
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A Battalion Commander has been fired over a tragic accident at Camp Pendleton that claimed the life of a U.S. Marine, according to base officials.

Sgt. Wesley J. Rice died after an amphibious assault vehicle sank to the bottom of the basin during a training exercise on Jan. 14.

Details of an official inquiry into the incident were released Thursday. The investigation revealed that a number of factors contributed to the tragedy. 

“These factors included a mechanical failure on the vehicle, non-standard training and operating procedures, and ultimately a lack of sufficient oversight within the Assault Amphibian Schools Battalion,” according to a Marine Corps news release.

Brigadier Gen. Michael M. Brogan assembled a team to address the Program of Instruction at the Assault Amphibian Schools Battalion.

“Additionally, Brig. Gen. Brogan has ordered remedial or administrative action be taken to correct deficiencies in responsibilities within the battalion staff.  These actions include the relief of the Battalion Commander,” the release stated.

Three instructors and three students were conducting driver training in the Del Mar boat basin when the vehicle sank at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 14, military officials said.

Five Marines were able to exit the vehicle. The sixth Marine, Rice, was trapped.

Search and rescue crews worked to pump oxygen into the AAV for Rice who was trapped inside for several hours, according to a spokesperson with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

They were unable to recover him in time.

Rice was recovered at approximately 2:15 p.m. and transported by Mercy Air to Scripps La Jolla. The Marine was pronounced dead at 2:47 p.m.

Three of the five Marines who escaped the vehicle were rushed to local hospitals. Two Marines walked away without injury.

The training vehicle was part of the Amphibious Assault Vehicle Schools Battalion. The Marines use the vehicle to transport troops from ship to shore.

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