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New River Marine who fell from Osprey identified

By WCTI Staff
Published On: May 20 2014 03:27:26 AM CDT
Updated On: May 21 2014 11:41:18 PM CDT
BLADEN COUNTY -

The New River Marine who fell from an Osprey aircraft Monday evening has been identified.

The family of Steven Hancock have confirmed their son was the Marine who fell out of the tiltrotor aircraft at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, according to Dr. Kent Bugg, the superintendent of the school district in Coal City, Ill., where Hancock went to school.

"All of us were hoping for the best, and then [Tuesday] night, when his mother confirmed that he has passed, we were all devastated," Bugg told NewsChannel 12.

The Marine fell from the Osprey approximately 45 miles west of MCAS New River in Jacksonville, the Marine Corps stated.

Crews found the victim's body Tuesday afternoon in a blueberry field along Highway 701 in Bladen County, about 3 miles from the command post in the White Lake area where teams had been searching, the Marine Corps said.

Hancock graduated from Coal City High School in 2011, said Bugg. Hancock's younger sister, Mallory, just graduated this past weekend.

In addition, Hancock was an Eagle Scout, Bugg said.

"Steven was a wonderful young man. He was very, very respectful," Bugg told NewsChannel 12. "I tell people he was a quiet leader. He was always dedicated to service."

The Marine was the crew chief of the Osprey and was a member of Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, military officials said. He was based at MCAS New River in Jacksonville.

The Osprey was conducting a training flight when the incident happened, the Marine Corps said.

It's unclear exactly how the Marine fell from the aircraft. USMC Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said everyone on board the Osprey had a restraint system. While in flight, the aircraft crew noticed that the Marine was missing, Lt. Col. Harshberger said.

According to the Marine Corps, the incident remains under investigation.

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Crews have found the body of a New River Marine who fell from an Osprey tiltrotor aircraft Monday evening.

The body was spotted by an aircraft crew at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in a blueberry field along Highway 701 North in Bladen County, said 1st Lt. Hector Alejandro of  MCAS Cherry Point. The body was located about 3 miles from the command post in the White Lake area where teams had been searching.

Alejandro said officials had to wait to announce the discovery of the body because they had to tell the victim's family first.

According to the Marine Corps, officials cannot release the Marine's name until 24 hours after family members are notified.

But military officials did say the victim was the crew chief of the Osprey and was a member of Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The Marine was based at MCAS New River in Jacksonville.

"We deeply mourn the loss of a member of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing family [Tuesday]. I'd like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of our Marine," said Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Marine Corps said the victim fell from the Osprey at about 6:30 p.m. Monday The accident happened approximately 45 miles west of New River, the Marine Corps stated.

Hundreds of Marines spent Tuesday searching the area north of White Lake near Clear Run School Road, not far from the Bladen-Sampson County line. Aircraft from both New River and Cherry Point were called in. Local civilian fire-and-rescue units and law enforcement helped with the search as well.

"I also want to extend my thanks to the community for their tireless efforts throughout this search. Without your cooperation, we could not have brought closure to this phase of such an unfortunate incident," Maj. Gen. Hedelund said.

The Osprey was conducting a training flight when the accident happened, the Marine Corps said.

It's unclear exactly how the Marine fell from the aircraft. USMC Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said everyone on board the Osprey had a restraint system. While in flight, the aircraft crew noticed that the Marine was missing, Lt. Col. Harshberger said.

Mike Barton, the deputy director of public affairs at Cherry Point, released the following statement:

"While the details surrounding the incident are under investigation, we ask that everyone keeps this Marine's family, and all those affected by this tragedy, in their thoughts and prayers. This sad news affects us all -- his family, his extended Marine family, and the community who provided selfless support during this tragic event."

Refresh this page for more details as they become available.

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Authorities are still actively search for a New River Marine who fell from an Osprey aircraft during a training flight.

According to the Marine Corps, the victim --whose name has not been released but was a member of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at MCAS New River-- fell from an MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft at about 6:30 p.m. Monday. The accident happened about 45 miles west of New River, the Marine Corps stated.

The search area is north of White Lake near Clear Run School Road, stated the Bladen County Sheriff's Office. The area is not far from the Bladen-Sampson County line.

Bladen County Fire Marshal Bradley Kinlaw told NewsChannel 12 crews are searching along a 2-and-a-half-mile line where they believe the incident happened.

USMC Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said Tuesday that hundreds of Marines from New River have joined more than a dozen search teams to look for the victim. In addition, four Marine Corps helicopters, dogs and ATVs are taking part in the search.

The missing Marine was the crew chief of the Osprey, which was conducting a training flight when the accident happened, military officials said. There is no word on exactly how the Marine fell from the aircraft.

Lt. Col. Harshberger said everyone on board the Osprey had a restraint system. He said the aircraft crew noticed while in flight that the Marine was missing.

Harshberger added that the search will continue until the Marine is found.

"While the cause of the mishap is under investigation, our first priority is to locate our missing comrade," stated the Marine Corps in a news release. "We ask that everyone keeps this Marine in their prayers and that you do nothing to hinder the efforts of the authorities involved in the search."

NewsChannel 12 is working to get more details.