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New River Marine's Body Returns Home

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An Illinois town turned out Wednesday to remember Lance Cpl. Steven Hancock, the New River Marine who died in a freak accident last week.

"He was a fun, lovable person and he was a good person," said Matt Kaplan, a fellow boy scout. "That's all I can say about him. There is no negative thing that could ever be said about him."

Friends, family members, and those who never even knew Hancock lined the streets as the Marine's body was returned home to Coal City.

Last week, Hancock fell from an Osprey aircraft about 45 miles west of Marine Corps Air Station New River. The incident came as a shock to a community who hadn't lost a service member since Vietnam.

"More than half of us out here don't know him personally," said Melissa Willis. "We're all out here to support them now and show them the community is here."

Hancock had been promoted to Lance Corporal only recently and was crew chief on his aircraft.

The funeral home says the visitation for Hancock will be Thursday at First Christian Church in Morris. A funeral will be at the church on May 30. Hancock will be buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.

The Marine Corps says his death is under investigation.

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The funeral for a U.S. Marine who died after falling from an aircraft during a training flight will be next week in the northern Illinois city of Morris.

Lance Cpl. Steven M. Hancock fell Monday night from an Osprey aircraft about 45 miles west of Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina. Hancock was from Coal City. The Herald-News in Joliet reports (http://bit.ly/1jMtsWl ) that U.C. Davis-Callahan Funeral Home in Morris is handling the arrangements.

The funeral home says the visitation for Hancock will be Thursday at First Christian Church in Morris. A funeral will be at the church on May 30. Hancock will be buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.

Hancock was with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204. The Marines have said they are investigating.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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School officials confirm that a Coal City, Illinois native was the Osprey crew member who fell to his death Monday night.

Dr. Kent Bugg, superintendent of the Coal City school system, says Steven Hancock was a 2011 graduate of their high school. Bugg says Hancock's mother is a teacher's aide at their elementary school.

Bugg says they are devastated by the accident. Hancock's younger sister just graduated from their high school on Sunday.

The New River Air Station Marine apparently fell from an Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft after it had taken off from the nearby Elizabethtown airport Monday night around 6:30 p.m. during a training exercise.

His body was found off Highway 701 by search teams late Tuesday afternoon.

"We deeply mourn the loss of a member of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing family today. I'd like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of our Marine," said Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General. "I also want to extend my thanks to the community for their tireless efforts throughout this search. Without your cooperation, we could not have brought closure to this phase of such an unfortunate incident."

The investigation into how the Marine fell is ongoing.


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Marine Spokesman Hector Alejandro confirms the body of a missing Marine was found in Bladen County around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. At this point the identity of the Marine is not being released.

Bladen County Coroner Hubert Kinlaw confirmed earlier in the day that a body, which is now confirmed to be the Marine, was found about a half mile up a dirt path off Highway 701.

The New River Air Station Marine apparently fell from an Osprey after it had taken off from the nearby Elizabethtown airport Monday night around 6:30 p.m.

Deputies, NCIS, and an ambulance have been seen at the location, near Carolina Blueberry Association.

The Marine Corps released the following statement:

"The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Marine who fell from an MV-22B Osprey tilt rotor aircraft yesterday was found deceased late this afternoon. At this point, it appears he died as a result of the fall.

The Marine was a crewmember of an aircraft that was conducting a training flight at the time of the mishap. We cannot identify the Marine until 24 hours after the notification of next of kin.

While the details surrounding the incident are under investigation, we ask that everyone keeps this Marine's family, and all those affected by this tragedy, in their thoughts and prayers. This sad news affects us all -- his family, his extended Marine family, and the community who provided selfless support during this tragic event.

"We deeply mourn the loss of a member of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing family today. I'd like to extend my sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of our Marine," said Maj. Gen. Robert Hedelund, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general. "I also want to extend my thanks to the community for their tireless efforts throughout this search. Without your cooperation, we could not have brought closure to this phase of such an unfortunate incident."

Those participating in the search efforts include 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing helicopters and Ospreys based at MCAS New River; and search and rescue helicopters from Marine Transport Squadron 1 out of MCAS Cherry Point. Local civilian fire and rescue units include: Bladen County Sheriff and Emergency Medical Service personnel, White Lakes Police and Fire Departments, Bay Tree Lakes Fire Department, North Carolina Highway Patrol, North Carolina Forest Service and State Parks personnel."


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Hundreds of Marines are on their way to help with the search for a Marine who fell from an Osprey during training in Bladen County.

Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger of Marine Aircraft Group 26 says they believe the Marine fell out of the aircraft in mid-flight.

Harshberger says all crew and passengers on Ospreys have restraint systems. He says they have the aircraft's flight path and they are now mapping a search area.

Harshberger says they will continue to search until the Marine is found.

Search efforts are being centered in Bladen County, between White Lake and Bay Tree Lake.

The Marine Corps says the Marine was found missing from the aircraft around 6:30 p.m. Monday.

"While the cause of the mishap is under investigation, our first priority is to locate our missing comrade." said Mike Barton, a Cherry Point spokesman. "We ask that everyone keeps this Marine in their prayers and that you do nothing to hinder the efforts of the authorities involved in the search."

Barton said the Marine's identity is not being released yet.



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Crews are combing through wooded areas in Bladen County, searching for a United States Marine who reportedly fell from an Osprey aircraft.

Our affiliate WECT is reporting Mike Barton, Public Affairs Director for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, said the Marine was taking part in a "normal training mission" when the incident happened Monday evening.

Barton told WECT the accident happened approximately 45 miles west of New River Air Station, where the Osprey is based. He did not have any information on the identity of the Marine involved in the incident.

Barton said the Marine Corps is conducting a search with local responders. Crews have set up a base in Bladen County, between White Lake and Bay Tree Lake as part of their efforts, according to reports.

Barton did not have any information on how many Marines were on board the aircraft when the incident happened. According to WECT, Barton said since the Osprey is a transport aircraft, it can carry just a crew or a crew and additional passengers.

When asked if the Marine would have any kind of homing beacon or signal generator to lead crews to a location, Barton told reporters he was not aware of that being the case.

WECT reports the investigation continues to find out what caused the Marine to fall out of the aircraft.


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