Wisconsin Marine among those presumed dead after vehicle mishap off Southern California coast

Local News

SAN DIEGO, Cali. (WFRV) – A Wisconsin native is among a group of Marines presumed dead after an amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) sank down in hundreds of feet of water off the Southern California coast on July 30.

A total of 16 troops — 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman — were on board when the amphibious assault vehicle started taking in water as it was about a half-mile from the shores of San Clemente Island. They had just completed a routine training exercise and were heading back to the Navy ship with a dozen other amphibious assault vehicles, said Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the commanding general of the Marine Expeditionary Force.

Troops on board two other amphibious assault vehicles responded quickly but could not stop the 26-ton vehicle from sinking, Osterman said. The tank-like craft sank in hundreds of feet of water — too deep for divers — making it difficult to reach.

One of eight Marines rescued from the water later died. Five Marines were rescued and brought aboard USS Somerset.

Officials with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, have identified the Marine killed as well as the seven Marines and one sailor presumed dead after the accident.

  • Lance Cpl. Guillermo S. Perez, 20, of New Braunfels, Texas, was pronounced dead at the scene before being transported by helicopter to Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego. He was a rifleman with Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/4, 15th MEU.

Presumed dead are:

  • Pfc. Bryan J. Baltierra, 19, of Corona, California, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • Lance Cpl. Marco A. Barranco, 21, of Montebello, California, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • Pfc. Evan A. Bath, 19, of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22, of Stockton, California, a hospital corpsman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21, of Bend, Oregon, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • Cpl. Wesley A. Rodd, 23, of Harris, Texas, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood, 19, of Portland, Oregon, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.
  • Cpl. Cesar A. Villanueva, 21, of Riverside, California, a rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU.

Injured were:

  • A Marine rifleman with Bravo Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU. The Marine was transported from the scene to Scripps Memorial Hospital by helicopter and was in critical condition.
  • A Marine assault amphibious vehicle crewmember with Mechanized Company, BLT 1/4, 15th MEU. The Marine was transported from the scene to Scripps Memorial Hospital by helicopter and was in critical condition. He has since been upgraded to stable condition per a competent medical authority.

Officials say the incident remains under investigation.

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