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Families of troops to sue in military vehicle deaths

SHOTLIST:RESTRICTION SUMMARY: PART MUST CREDIT KGTV; NO ACCESS SAN DIEGO; NO USE BY US BROADCAST NETWORKS; NO RE-SALE, RE-USE OR ARCHIVE KGTV - MUST CREDIT KGTV; NO ACCESS SAN DIEGO; NO USE BY US BROADCAST NETWORKS; NO RE-SALE, RE-USE OR ARCHIVE Oceanside, California - 29 July 20211. Wide view of family members of service membrs who died and attorneys at press briefing 2. Mid of family members at briefing 3. Wide view of attorney at podiumGRAPHIC: The families of nine U.S. service members who died last year when their assault vehicle sank in a training mishap plan to sue the maker of the vehicle.4. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Dubin, attorney for family members: "We're here to announce today that we are filing a lawsuit against BAE, who is the company that designed and manufactured this AAV (amphibious assault vehicle) that took the lives of these nine beautiful kids."++SOUNDBITES SEPARATED BY WHITE FLASH++ 5. SOUNDBITE (English) Eric Dubin, attorney for family members: "These are kids that wanted to be in the military. Marines, Navy. They accepted certain things in their heart, which I believe all parents of military do, which is combat, defending our country, defending our freedoms. What you don't accept or brace in your heart is for your kids to die because of defective equipment, for your kids to die because of knowingly defective equipment. And if accountability is what it takes to get these things fixed, then that's what we want."++SOUNDBITES SEPARATED BY WHITE FLASH++ 6. SOUNDBITE (English) Christiana Sweetwood, mother of U.S. service member who died in AAV accident:"They took, they kind of took my life. He left behind seven other brothers and sisters and they loved that boy. There's a hole in my family I can't fix. And I don't want another mother standing in a door at 7 a.m. and two casualty officers telling her that her son is missing and you have no idea. Why, why is my son gone? And why was he not kept safe? He died the day before his 19th birthday, so not only is the 30th the day he died, but he was turning 19 years old the following day and they couldn't even get him to his 19th birthday." STORYLINE:The families of eight Marines and one sailor who died when their amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) sank off the Southern California coast last summer plan to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle that resembles an armored seafaring tank, their lawyers announced Thursday. BAE Systems knew for a decade or more about a design defect that makes it nearly impossible for troops to open the cargo hatches and escape the 26-ton amphibious vehicles when they sink, attorney Eric Dubin said at a news conference in Oceanside, the city bordering Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, where most of the troops were based. Dubin was accompanied by relatives of at least five of the service members who died on July 30, 2020. Dubin added that the troops were trapped inside for 45 minutes before the vehicle, known as an AAV, sank. He said the lawsuit would be filed within two days in U.S. District Court in San Diego. Military leaders agree the tragedy could have been prevented. An investigation by the maritime branch found the accident off San Clemente Island was caused by inadequate training, shabby maintenance of the 35-year-old amphibious assault vehicles and poor judgment by commanders.Nearly a dozen Marine officers have been forced out of their jobs or disciplined in another way. The Marine Corps also relieved a two-star general in June who had overseen the exercise. BAE Systems declined to comment on the expected lawsuit and directed questions to the Marine Corps.“We offer our deepest sympathies to the families impacted by this tragedy and we mourn the loss of the nine service members," company spokesman Tim Paynter wrote in an email.Lawyers for the families said they also would have considered suing the military but were prevented by the Feres doctrine, a 1950 decision that says service members cannot sue the federal government for injuries sustained while serving. Instead, they are asking the military to support the lawsuit and pull its amphibious assault vehicles out of the water until the problem is resolved. The Marine Corps did that for months while the accident was investigated, but recently troops have been back inside them in the water. The troops who died were inside a decades-old amphibious vehicle, but lawyers said the newer ones, including a line now in production, have the same issue, which is why they are suing.Christiana Sweetwood of Danville, Virginia, said she never wants another mother to experience what she has over the past year. “When they took my son, they kind of took my life," she said.The accident occurred a day before Lance Cpl. Chase D. Sweetwood's 19th birthday. His mother said she and the other families who lost loved ones plan to spend the anniversary of the accident together, sharing memories. She may put flowers in the ocean.On Saturday, Sweetwood plans to visit her son's grave at Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego and eat his favorite dish, peach pie, to honor him on what would have been his 20th birthday. The vehicles have been at the heart of the Marine Corps' amphibious operations, carrying troops from ship to shore for both combat and humanitarian operations since the early 1980s. It can traverse both land and sea.The investigation found the troops had not received appropriate instruction on how to escape a sinking amphibious vehicle and that the unit had not completed a required evaluation meant to address any issues, including their swimming qualifications.Marine officers in charge that day also failed to have safety boats nearby.===========================================================Clients are reminded: (i) to check the terms of their licence agreements for use of content outside news programming and that further advice and assistance can be obtained from the AP Archive on: Tel +44 (0) 20 7482 7482 Email: they should check with the applicable collecting society in their Territory regarding the clearance of any sound recording or performance included within the AP Television News service (iii) they have editorial responsibility for the use of all and any content included within the AP Television News service and for libel, privacy, compliance and third party rights applicable to their Territory.
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