Marines Training Accident That Killed 8 In Southern California Was Preventable, New Findings Say

Investigators with the U.S. Marine Corps said a deadly military training exercise that took the lives of seven marines and a sailor from Stockton off the Southern California coast last summer was preventable.

Video Transcript

- Tonight, an investigation shows a military training that claimed eight Marines in Southern California never should have happened. One of the victims, a Stockton native.

- CBS 13's Anna Giles is live in Stockton with the failures that led to his death and a second investigation now underway. Anna.

ANNA GILES: Chris Gnem, known as Bobby out here in Stockton, was a graduate right here of Lincoln High School. At the time of this deadly military exercise, he was engaged to be married. An athlete with a pure heart, Bobby Gnem's mom says he spoke of grandkids he would never get the chance to have. Last summer, Bobby and eight others were training in an amphibious military vehicle near San Clemente Island when the vehicle took on water and sunk. Bobby's mom says he went down with the engagement rings he had just purchased for himself and his new fiancee.

GARY GREENO: To hear that things happened that could have been prevented, just-- just makes it even just that much harder to take.

ANNA GILES: Bobby's former coach, Gary Greeno, reacts to a military report about what caused the training exercise to turn deadly. Experts say the amphibious vehicle should have never been in use. Marine Corps officials point to a mix of mechanical problems and a failure to properly train those on board. They say water entered the amphibious vehicle through multiple points of leakage, and bilge pumps were unable to expel water rapidly enough due to transmission failure.

According to details obtained by the Marine Corps Times, those on board were provided with practically no training on what to do when an emergency happens inside an amphibious vehicle. They were fighting for their lives with no way to radio for help, again, due to equipment failure. They used flags to signal they were sinking.

GARY GREENO: It is just sad.

ANNA GILES: His mother was told his death was completely preventable. A painful revelation about a man remembered for how he treated others.

GARY GREENO: So there were multiple times when somebody might be down, somebody's having a bad game, and who was there picking him up, talking in his ear? It was Bobby.

ANNA GILES: And Bobby's mom told me tonight that he fought until his last breath and so will she, fighting for changes that will prevent this from happening to another family.