Marine Corporal Dies, 2 Others Hurt in 7-Ton Rollover During UAE Exercise

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A U.S. Marine Corps Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement convoy in Norway.
A U.S. Marine Corps Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement convoys from Bogen Pier to Elvegårdsmoen training camp, Norway, Feb. 19, 2020 (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Joseph Atiyeh)

A 20-year-old California-based Marine was killed this week when the vehicle she was in rolled during a training exercise in the United Arab Emirates.

Cpl. Eloiza Zavala, a motor vehicle operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 13, was pronounced dead at the scene after the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement 7-ton vehicle tipped over Tuesday. Two other Marines, both lance corporals, were hurt in the accident, according to a Marine Corps news release.

The release did not specify who was driving and said only that it was a single-vehicle accident. The Naval Safety Center, which collects data on serious mishaps, listed the accident as a rollover.

The other Marines hurt in the accident are also motor vehicle operators with Zavala's unit. One of them suffered serious injuries and had to be extracted from the vehicle. Marines on the scene provided first aid before a local search-and-rescue team flew that lance corporal to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City in Abu Dhabi.

Related: Sailor Dies After Fall from Ship's Ladderwell During Mediterranean Ops

The second lance corporal's injuries were not life-threatening, the release states.

Zavala and the lance corporals were in the UAE for exercise Native Fury 20, which started Sunday. Thousands of troops from the U.S. and UAE are participating in the exercise, including members of I Marine Expeditionary Force and the U.S. Army. Native Fury is meant to prep forces to respond to crises in the region.

Tuesday's fatal vehicle accident remains under investigation, according to Marine officials.

"This is a tragic accident, and we are praying for the loved ones of our lost and injured Marines," Brig. Gen. Roberta Shea, commanding general of 1st Marine Logistics Group -- the Marines' parent command, said in a statement. "Our priority is assisting in medical recovery efforts and to provide comfort and assistance to their families, friends, and comrades during this trying time."

Zavala, who was from Sacramento, joined the Marine Corps in April 2018. After boot camp, she completed Motor Transportation School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and was assigned to her unit at Camp Pendleton in December 2018.

This is at least the Marine Corps' second fatal tactical vehicle accident this fiscal year, which started in October. That same month, Pfc. Christian Bautista was killed in a vehicle training mishap in Bridgeport, California.

Last year, at least 15 troops were killed in vehicle training accidents, prompting an investigation into what's causing the deaths by a top government watchdog agency. Families of some of those victims, along with federal lawmakers, have demanded the military take action to prevent vehicle training mishaps.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Read more: Fallen Troops' Families Demand Action After Spate of Military Vehicle Rollover Deaths

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