WEST COVINA (CBSLA.com/AP) — Officials say a West Covina man was one of three Marines who were on board a U.S. military aircraft that crashed into the sea off the east coast of Australia last weekend.
Ruben Velasco, 19, was initially considered missing following the Saturday crash of the MV-22 Osprey helicopter.
Twenty-three Marines survived the crash, but a search for the missing Marines ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said an Australian Navy ship helped locate the wreckage of the MV-22 Osprey on Monday off the coast of Queensland state.
Marine officials said the aircraft was conducting regularly scheduled operations on Saturday when it plunged into the water.
A GoFundMe page set up to raise funds for Velasco’s family.
In a Facebook post, the family said: “Uniformed officers came to our house last night to inform us that the search and rescue f or our son Ruben Velasco has been called off and is now considered a recovery. We are all in disbelief and cannot fathom the loss of our son. The grief my wife has to bare is immeasurable.”
Velasco was aboard the aircraft en route back to its ship when it “struck the stern of the ship and crashed into the sea,” according to the post.
“We celebrated his 19th birthday only a few days ago, which makes his passing even harder,” according to the family. “Ruben is loved so very deeply and he will be missed by everyone who had the honor of knowing him.”
The other two Marines killed in the crash were identified as Cpl. Nathan Ordway of Kansas and 1st Lt. Benjamin Robert Cross of Maine.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)