2/13/15 Update: New information about the Marine who fell from an Osprey last summer has been released after an investigation. It was determined that Hancock likely fell accidentally from a Marine MC-22 Osprey last May from Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 out of MCAS New River.
There were no witnesses to the fall, but the investigation found no evidence that it was anything other than an accident.When Hancock was last seen, he was strapped in with a gunner’s belt that was tethered to the inside of the aircraft and sitting in one of the designated crew seats.
The gunner’s belt allows crew members to move around the aircraft freely while crew members are performing their duties. Some speculate that he may have tried to rescue his internal communications equipment which oftentimes comes off crew members in flight.
The investigation revealed that Hancock slipped out of his belt and some estimate that it may have happened while he was in a relaxed or unconscious state outside of the aircraft.
The Marine Corps Times reported, “The clasp of the belt never came undone, the investigation found, but a bent latch and blood stains on the strap showed that Hancock “was wearing the gunner’s belt for some time on exiting the aircraft before falling.”
“This is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts and support are focused on Lance Corporal Hancock’s family and friends,” said Lt. Col. Brett Hart, VMMT-204 commanding officer. “I can say that his passing has taken a heavy toll on the men and women who came to be his Marine Corps family. We miss him.”
According to the Marine Corps Times, new flight rules have been established by the Marine Corps to prevent this kind of accident from happening again. Recommendations include a small number of safety upgrades, “a better “gunner’s belt” restraints and more cautious use of the rear ramp in the open position”.
5/21/14 Update: Family members have come forth and released the identification of the Marine who feel from an Osprey Monday night. Sue Hancock told the Herald-News that she received the notification on Monday that her son, Steven Hancock, was missing.
The next day, the Marine Corps discovered the body of the Marine after he fell from an Osprey stationed at New River Air Station-based air craft.
“At this point, it appears he died as a result of the fall,” Mike Barton, deputy director of public affairs for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said late Tuesday via a release.
Military officials are investigation the cause of the incident.
“We deeply mourn the loss of a member of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing family today. I’d like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of our Marine,” said Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, via the relesae. “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.”
The Marine Corps will not identify the Marine until 24 hours after his next-of-kin was notified.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Hancock’s friends and family.
5/20/14: The search continues for a New River Marine who fell from an Osprey during a training exercise. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point spokesman Mike Barton stated that crews are still looking for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Marine who fell from an MV-22B Osprey around 6:30 p.m. Monday.
They have located their search to Bladen County, approximately 45 miles west of Marine Corps Air Station New River, somewhere between White Lake and Bay Tree Lake.
According to Barton, the Marine is an Osprey crewmember and was part of the group conducting a training flight at the time.
“While the cause of the mishap is under investigation, our first priority is to locate our missing comrade.” said Barton. “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.”
When asked if the Marine had any signal generator or homing beacon to aid in locating the Marine, Barton stated that he was not aware of that being the case.
What caused the Marine to fall out of the aircraft or how it happened is still under investigation.
Barton said the Marines identity is not being released yet.
See the video of an Osprey in flight below.