A Marine officer was killed and four Marines were injured when their Tustin-based helicopter landed tail-first and burst into flames on a military runway in Northern California, the Marine Corps said Sunday.
The co-pilot, Lt. James Amature, 27, of New York City, who had been involved in U.S. relief efforts in Somalia, died of massive injuries in the Saturday afternoon accident aboard a CH-53D Super Stallion helicopter, spokesman Sgt. Barry L. Pawelek said.
Pawelek said the transport and supply helicopter from the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 at the Tustin Marine Corps Air Station was on a routine training mission. It was landing at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport when "the bottom two wheels of the plane, near the tail," hit the ground.
The helicopter burst into flames that "destroyed most of the aircraft," Pawelek said.
The cause of the mishap has not been determined, he said.
The pilot, Maj. David Peterson, 40, of Fairborne, Ohio, was in satisfactory condition Sunday, said a nurse at Washoe Medical Center in Reno, Nev. No conditions were available for the others, identified as crew chief Cpl. John McCarthy, 29, of Randolph, Mass., and crewman Lance Cpl. Vincent Pirato, 30, of Drexel Hills, Pa.