Investigation determines Marine’s fatal fall from aircraft was accidental

CHERRY POINT, NC (WWAY) — The investigation into the May 19, 2014, mishap that resulted in the death of a Marine MV-22 Osprey crew chief has determined that the Marine’s death was likely the result of an accidental fall from the aircraft.

Lance Cpl. Steven Hancock, a member of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, fell from the open back of an MV-22B during the otherwise routine training flight approximately 45 miles west of Marine Corps Air Station New River. There were no witnesses to the fall, but the investigation found no evidence to indicate the fall was anything other than an accident.

Without a witness, it is impossible to know how Hancock fell. However, when he was last seen in the back of the aircraft, he was strapped in with a gunner’s belt, which was attached to the inside of the aircraft with a safety tether. The gunner’s belt is not a seatbelt; it is a belt that is attached to a safety tether designed to allow free movement within the aircraft while aircrew are performing their duties.

While the investigation did not reveal exactly how Lance Cpl. Hancock came out of his belt, it was determined that he had secured the belt properly, and that it did not come open. Investigation data further suggests that Hancock may have slipped through the belt while in an unconscious and relaxed state outside of the aircraft.

“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.”

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