Marine Injured in MV-22 Lightning Strike Taken Off Life Support

An MV-22 Osprey departs a landing zone after successfully inserting Marines, Jan. 30, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Frank Cordoba)
An MV-22 Osprey departs a landing zone after successfully inserting Marines, Jan. 30, 2017. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Frank Cordoba)

A Marine MV-22 Osprey mechanic who was critically injured when lightning struck on the flightline last week has been taken off a ventilator, Military.com has learned.

Cpl. Skyler James, a maintainer assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, out of Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, had been working on an aircraft July 11 when the strike happened. Another Marine was also injured in the strike and was briefly hospitalized at nearby Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune.

But James's injuries were much graver. He was ultimately transferred to UNC Health Center and placed on a ventilator to support his breathing and organ function. On July 16, North Carolina State officials declared brain death.

A spokesman for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Capt. John Roberts, told Military.com that James had been taken off the ventilator sometime Tuesday.

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Roberts said a date for a unit memorial service in James' honor had yet to be set.

James was 23 and a 2012 graduate of Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California, according to the Press-Democrat, a local newspaper. He had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2014 and had been promoted to the rank of corporal in October.

In a release Monday, officials with 2nd MAW said James and the other Marine had been in the process of clearing the flightline after receiving a warning of lighting within five miles when the deadly strike occurred.

Lt. Col. Stephen Pirrotta, commanding officer of VMM-261, paid tribute to James' quick smile and easy demeanor in a statement.

"Cpl. Skyler James was a hardworking Marine full of work ethic, ability, and drive," Pirrotta said. "... This was a tragic accident. Corporal James will be sorely missed by the Raging Bulls. His family is in our thoughts and prayers."

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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