ACC Releases Ground Accident Investigation Report for Water Vehicle Accident in Arizona

  • Published
  • By ACC Public Affairs Staff
  • ACC Public Affairs

Air Combat Command released a Ground Accident Investigation Board report regarding a fatal watercraft accident that occurred June 14, in Gila County, Arizona.

The vehicle operator, an Airman assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron, fatally drowned while operating a government-owned Advanced Rescue Craft (ARC), specifically a Yamaha Waverunner FX Cruiser, at Theodore Roosevelt Lake prior to a scheduled maritime pararescue training operation.

The mishap occurred when the Airman suffered a cardiac event that caused him to fall into the water. He was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time, was unable to stay afloat and succumbed to drowning.

Earlier that morning, at approximately 7:30 a.m., the Airman and a civilian contractor assigned to the 48 RQS departed Davis-Monthan AFB for Roosevelt Lake to support two different training operations. According to the report, after arriving at Roosevelt Lake the two operated the watercraft on the lake for approximately two hours. At approximately 2:05 p.m., the colleague noticed the operator was no longer visible on the surface of the water and began searching for him. When unable to locate the operator, the colleague contacted squadron leadership and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office to initiate search and rescue efforts.

Search efforts continued for three days, executed by local law enforcement and various Air Force search and rescue squadrons and assets, including HH-60G Pavehawk helicopters, boats, sonar devices, divers and cadaver dogs. The search ended June 17 when the Airman’s body was recovered by a remotely operated vehicle approximately 129 feet below the surface of the water.

View the GAIB report here. 14 June 2023 ACC ARC 355th WG Davis Monthan AFB GAIB Report