The seven marines and a sailor who disappeared following a training incident off the coast of southern California on Thursday are considered dead, the first shipping force said in a statement.
Officials said they concluded a search and rescue operation on Saturday after establishing that there was little chance of successfully locating members of the service. Efforts will now begin to find their remains.
Fifteen Marines and a sailor were involved in the accident, which took place after the amphibious assault vehicle in which they were driving began to sink into the water and sink off the coast of San Clemente, California. Of the eight Marines rescued, one died and two others were seriously injured.
“It is with a heavy heart that I decided to end the search and rescue efforts,”
The people involved in the accident were assigned to the 15th maritime shipping unit in Camp Pendleton, California. The maritime unit said it is conducting an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the accident.
The accident reportedly occurred while the vehicle traveled from the island of San Clemente to a ship that was approximately 1,000 meters from the shore. Marine Corps commander General David H. Berger said in a press conference that two other amphibious assault vehicles witnessed the crash and that officials were able to locate where it sank, according to the New York Times .
The Marine Corps, the Navy and the Coast Guard assisted in the rescue mission, reported the Marine unit.
“As we turn to recovery operations, we will continue our exhaustive search for our missing marines and sailors,” said Bronzi.