View Full Version : Marines identify sailor, soldier killed in crash

01-07-06, 06:37 AM
Marines identify sailor, soldier killed in crash
By Seth Hettena

SAN DIEGO - A military vehicle veered out of control while crossing a San Diego freeway bridge and slammed into the railing, killing a Marine and a Navy sailor who spilled out and fell 70 feet to the canyon below, the Marines announced Thursday.

Eight servicemen were riding in the rear of a 12-ton light armored vehicle that was towing an unoccupied, 14-ton armored vehicle equipped with a 25mm gun mounted on a turret, according to the California Highway Patrol.

As the convoy crossed the Interstate 15 span in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Bernardo Wednesday night, the driver lost control and the vehicles came to rest on the railing.

Those killed were Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher B. Best, 20, a native of Springfield, Mo., and Petty Officer 3rd Class David S. Sotelo, 22, a Navy corpsman and a native of Murietta. Two other Marines -- the driver and a passenger who were not identified -- were treated for minor injuries at a local hospital and have returned to their unit.

All four were members of the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion based at 29 Palms, elements of which were gearing up for a third deployment to Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

The rear of the vehicle bore a sign that read "Danger! Stay Back!" in both English and Arabic.

The Marines were traveling from 29Palms to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego for what was described as routine training. The accident occurred a few miles north of the Miramar base.

"It's gut-wrenching to see that. You expect things like that in combat. You really try to prevent these things from happening in a peacetime situation," Marine Col. Robert Knapp told a local TV station. "It's a tragedy. Unfortunately, these Marines are trained to deal with tragedy. They'll put on their packs tomorrow and continue to march."

The crash, which backed up traffic on the freeway, remained under investigation.