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Marine sues SDGE after being burned when AAV hit gas line and exploded

Marine Corps AAV. Photo: Marine Corps

A U.S. Marine corporal who was one of 15 service members burned in a Sep. 13 training accident filed a lawsuit Tuesday against San Diego Gas & Electric, contending the utility was responsible for a gas line that caused the accident.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in San Diego by Cpl. Carlos Tinoco and his wife Maria says SDG&E was negligent because of substandard installation of a natural gas line on the base.

A Marine amphibious assault vehicle on a routine training mission in the San Mateo portion of the base struck a gas line, engulfing the vehicle in flames. No one died but 14 Marines and a Navy corpsman were burned, several severely.

In the aftermath, the utility told The San Diego Union-Triune that an SDG&E gas line was not involved.

“We are aware of a gas incident that occurred on Camp Pendleton on Wednesday. We investigated and determined that an SDG&E gas line was not involved,” Sempra Energy spokesman Joe Britton said at the time.

On Tuesday, a spokesman said the utility was unaware of the lawsuit and could not comment.

John Thornton, a lawyer for the family, said that he did not know yet if the line was an SDG&E line or if a contractor was responsible. He said he had attempted to get that information from the Marine Corps but was unsuccessful. With the lawsuit, he hopes to be able to determine who was responsible for the line.

The suit says that the base had specific design specifications and requirements for gas line installations, such as how deep the pipe should be buried and how the location of the pipes should be labeled and identified. The suit says the line that was run over was out of compliance with those requirements.

Tinoco suffered third-degree burns and what the suit described as severe and permanent injuries.

Twitter: @gregmoran
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