BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Officials have confirmed that the body of the Marine who fell from the Osprey during a training mission has been found. Search crews found the body in a blueberry field off US 701 this afternoon.
Around 5 p.m., several bus loads of fellow Marines from Marine Corps Air Station New River and some of the equipment used in the search began to leave a command post set up near White Lake.
Search crews resumed their search early this morning using search and rescue dogs, ATVs, helicopters and radar tracks to find the Marine, whose name has not been released.
The Marine Corps says the incident happened around 6:30 p.m. Monday north of White Lake near the Bladen-Sampson County line.
The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Marine was the crew chief on board the MV-22B Osprey, which means he should have been tethered in the back of the aircraft, which has the ability to take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane.
During a news conference this morning, USMC Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger said that everyone on board the Osprey had a restraint system. He said the crew of the Osprey noticed while still in flight that the Marine was no longer on board.
Bladen County Fire Marshal Bradley Kinlaw said this morning Bladen and Sampson County emergency units were helping military crews in the search.
Searchers started this morning at Turtle Cove on the west bank of White Lake and headed toward Autrytown Road. They say the search area includes several blueberry fields and Carolina Bays. That means crews had to deal with thick, marshy areas, which could make the search difficult, Kinlaw said.
Kinlaw says the Osprey crew was doing touch and go training at the airport in Elizabethtown, when the crew noticed the Marine missing near Maple Bay about five miles from White Lake.