New River Air Station, North Carolina – A Marine MV-22 Osprey mechanic was declared brain dead at Camp LeJuene Naval Hospital Sunday after being struck by lightning while working on an MV-22 Osprey on July 11th. Another Marine was eventually released from the hospital.
Cpl. Skyler James, a tiltrotor mechanic assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261, and another Marine (who was not identified), were working on the MV-22 when a lightning bolt struck them. Both Marines were transported to the Naval Hospital with “serious injuries.” The Marine Corps did not publicly announce the situation for a week.
Update– Cpl James has been removed from the ventilator as of July 18.
The Marines on the flight lines were beginning to disperse after a warning that lightning struck within five miles of the base. Thunderstorms reportedly had surrounded the area at noon that day.
“The lightning strike happened as Marines were leaving the flight line, having received a warning that lightning had struck within five miles, according to officials with 2nd MAW. It’s standard procedure within the unit to stop flightline activity when lightning comes within five miles as a safety precaution, according to the release.
The freak accident was first reported by the Naval Safety Center, which listed it as a Class A mishap. In aviation, this category is reserved for mishaps that cause $2 million or more in damage to an aircraft or result in fatality or permanent total disability.”
There are a few details of this incident that are unclear at this time.
James was in the hospital for several days, under treatment and evaluation. He was declared brain dead on Sunday.
Local media reported that James joined the Marine Corps in 2014, and was promoted to Corporal in October 2016. His awards included the Marine Corps Good Conduct medal, Sea Service Deployment ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service medal and National Defense Service medal.
“Cpl. Skyler James was a hardworking Marine full of work ethic, ability, and drive. He was quick to smile and ready to accept any maintenance challenge on the flight line with a demeanor that allowed for easy interaction between his peers and superiors, alike…This was a tragic accident. Corporal James will be sorely missed by the Raging Bulls. His family is in our thoughts and prayers.” Lt. Col. Stephen Pirrotta, commanding officer of VMM-261.