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Military Helicopters Collide in Southeast California killing 7

Thursday, February 23, 2012

DEVELOPING: Two military helicopters collided Wednesday night near a remote region in southeast California, killing seven Marines, the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma said in a statement.

The helicopters, an AH-1W “Cobra” and UH-1Y “Huey,” were conducting a routine training exercise at 8 p.m., the statement said. The helicopters were over southeast California in the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, Dustin Dunk, the public affairs chief from the air station, said.

Maureen Dooley, a Miramar public affairs officer, told Fox News Radio that Marines use the training area because the terrain is similar to what they would face in Afghanistan. These training sessions help them gain some familiarity before they deploy.

"We do not know what caused it," Dooley said.  "That is what the investigation will reveal to us."

The Marines started an investigation into the incident, which can take months to complete.

The identities of the Marines will be released after their families are informed about the incident.

Capt. Staci Reidinger, director of public affairs at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma said earlier Thursday that the crash happened west of the Chocolate Mountains in California, though the exact location hasn't been confirmed.

"It's not in a populated area," she said.

Several accidents have happened in the past year involving Marine Corps training in Southern California.

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