ELIZABETHTOWN — The investigation into a training mishap that occurred over White Lake on Monday involving a Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey aircraft is continuing, according to the Morris Daily Herald of Morris, Ill.
The newspaper is the hometown paper of of Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Hancock of Coal City, Ill., who was killed when he fell from the aircraft on a familiarization training mission. He was assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Air station New River near Cherry Point.
According to published reports, Hancock was acting as crew chief on the flight and was not noticed to be missing until the flight neared the air station. According to the Morris Daily Herald, the investigation is continuing into what happened and why it took so long for anyone to notice Hancock was not on board the aircraft.
The flight was practicing touch-and-go landings at the Elizabethtown Airport when the incident happened about 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 19.
The search area included the west shoreline of White Lake to Bay Tree Lakes to Autrytown Road. The terrain included blueberry fields and Carolina bays. Hanckcok was located in a blueberry field near Johsontown Road on Tuesday, according to published reports.
The Marine Corps was assisted by local officials, including Bladen County Emergency Management, White Lake Fire Department, Hickory Grove and Bay Tree Lakes fire departments.
Perry Harlow, a member of First Christian Church who attended church with Hancock, told the Morris Daily Herald in an interview, “For the short period I knew Steven, he was a great kid. He is a follower of Christ and a faithful man. He is one of the nicest people I have met in my life. He is kind and thoughtful and a great person to hang around.”
Hancock was an Eagle Scout and a 2011 gradaute of Coal City High School. He is the son of Sue and Michael Hancock of Goose Creek, Ill., according to the newspaper.
Jim Cebulski, a welding instructor with the Grundy Area Vocational Center, told the Morris Daily Herald, “I remember when Steven came to visit after he completed basic training, and I almost didn’t recognize him. His smile was even bigger than I could remember, and I believe that he found his calling in the military. He was happy.”