TWENTYNINE PALMS ( — A Camp Pendleton-based United States Marine was killed and three others were injured on Monday when a tank caught fire during a training exercise east of Palm Springs.

Corporal Nick Sell, 21, was killed when the tank he was in reportedly caught fire during an exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.

The three other Marines involved in the accident received emergency care. A nearby fire station was reportedly called to provide assistance around 11:42 a.m., arriving shortly after noon.

Sell’s cousin, Petty Officer 3rd Class Matt McMahon, serving in the United States Coast Guard in Monterey, says Sell was dear to the entire family, and described the incident as “surreal”.

“He loved greatly, and was loved the same,” Petty Officer McMahon said.

Corporal Sell was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, and spent seven months there on duty.

“Nick was a selfless and loving person,” Sell’s cousin Colleen said. “Everyone called him brother. He was always volunteering to help with anything or be there for anyone — USMC, family, or friend-related. He held the titles of Corporal, Eagle Scout, son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend — roles that are now void in so many lives.”

Sell began spending more time at his cousins’ home in Carlsbad when he was conveniently stationed just miles away at Camp Pendleton at about the same time McMahon left the home to join the Coast Guard.

“Just at that time, Nick entered our lives in a way only God could have arranged,” Sell’s uncle Joe McMahon said. “Nick got stationed at Camp Pendleton, just 12 minutes from our home, and just in time to help fill the empty hole left where my son Matt once resided. Nick brought healing to our damaged souls every weekend he was here, minus his Afghanistan tour.”

A memorial fund has been set up to support Nick’s family. Those who wish to donate may do so here.

Sell is survived by his parents Randy and Kathy, and his brothers Jeff and Beau Macy.

The family says the accident is under investigation.


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