7 Marines were killed during a routine training mission for Afghanistan before crashing in a midair collision along the California-Arizona border.
Those killed in the tragic crash include one marine from Yuma, AZ and six based out of Camp Pendleton in CA.
The helicopter crash occurred Wednesday night around 10:30 PM ET, during a routine training operation, according to Commander Col. Robert Kuckuk from the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Base.
The collision was between a AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter and a UH-1Y Huey utility chopper in the Chocolate Mountains near Yuma.
Both aircraft were from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing which is based out of Camp Pendleton.
Authorities are investigating this incident, which had two more helicopters in the immediate area during the crash according to Gunnery Sgt. Dustin Dunk, a spokesperson for Air Station Yuma.
“We won’t know exactly what happened until the investigation is complete, and we can’t make any assumptions right now,” said 1st Lt. Maureen Dooley, a Marine Corps spokeswoman.
According to Dunk, weather did not appear to be the cause of the incident. However, there was a significant amount of dust from the helicopters taking off and landing, which could have been a factor in visibility during the nightfall. The UH-1Y Huey was due to be on the flight line at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
“We have aircraft going out to Yuma training ranges on a weekly basis, and they go out there primarily because the aircraft mimics what they will see in Afghanistan,” Dooley said.
Authorities will not be releasing the names of the deceased Marines until their families have been notified.