Update: Announced today at 7:55 AM, the five marines were pronounced dead and efforts to recover the remains are underway.
The search for five Marines continues in California following a crash that occurred Tuesday night during record record-breaking storm. Their aircraft was located, Wednesday morning around 9 a.m. in a mountainous area near San Diego, about 45 miles east of San Diego.
The five marines, assigned to the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, and the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, were aboard a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter during a routine training flight from Creech Air Force Base, just northwest of Las Vegas, bound for Marine Corps Air Station Marimar in San Diego.
Crazy Storm Hits California
According to reports, the aircraft was reported “overdue” Tuesday after it failed to arrive on schedule. The aircraft was flying when a powerful storm hit. It brought record amounts of snow and rain to the area which caused flooding and landslides over the previous three days.
Currently, it is unclear if the helicopter crashed or landed safely.
On Tuesday afternoon, The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning, which was quickly canceled. However, the report of another 6-10 inches of snow in the mountains and gusty winds was still expected going into late Wednesday.
Searching for Five Missing Marines
Other agencies have been brought in to participate in the search for the missing Marines. The Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue Unit, California Fire San Diego, and the U.S. Forest Service have joined local law enforcement in search efforts.
According to a social media post on X, California Fire San Diego stated, that heavy snowfall is making access difficult to the area, and additional resources have been mobilized to aid in the ongoing rescue operation near Pine Valley.
During a “gaggle” with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, en route to New York, Kirby stated, “all that we know right now is that the search is ongoing for — for the helicopter and the crew. Obviously, our — our hopes are of the best here. But this was an MH-53 — Marine Corps MH-53 — a large helicopter that was on its way from the Creech Air Force Base to San Diego, and that’s really all we know.”
“We’re watching this closely. And again, our thoughts are for the best,” Kirby continued.
According to Jean-Pierre, the White House has been briefed on the situation.