Sgt Caleb M. Medley
Marine Corps Times
OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Marine Corps officials identified a Marine killed Tuesday in a parachuting accident in Perris, Calif., as Sgt. Caleb M. Medley, 26.
Medley, of La Junta, Colo., was an assistant radio operator with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton, 1st Marine Division officials said in a news release.
The accident happened during military training about 3 p.m. near Perris Valley Airport, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. “He ended up landing just north of the airport,” in a fenced-in storage lot, said Sgt. Lisa McConnell, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman. Firefighters responded to the scene, but he was dead when they arrived, McConnell said.
Division officials are investigating the cause of the accident. No other details about the incident were released. Perris Valley Airport is located about 30 miles north of Camp Pendleton.
Medley, an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran, enlisted in May 2005, according to the division. His military awards and decorations include the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with "V" and two Combat Action Ribbons.
Family mourns loss of soldier killed in accidentA
A La Junta family was shocked and saddened to learn about the death of Caleb Medley, 26 of Burlington.
Medley, a Marine, was killed in a skydiving accident in California Tuesday. According to reports, he suffered fatal injuries Tuesday afternoon when his parachute failed to deploy and he fell into a storage yard. He was taking part in a training exercise.
Medley is the grandson of John Sr. and Annie Mestas of La Junta; nephew of John and Kathy Mestas of La Junta and cousin of Sammy Mestas, Jill, Josh and Jen Stoker. Medley's parents, Diane (Mestas) Homm and George Homm live in Burlington.
After graduation, he joined the Marines and completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We just still can't believe this," John Mestas said. "He had just celebrated his (26th) birthday Monday."
Anyone wishing to send Caleb's family condolences, can do so by sending a card to Diane Homm, c/o John Mestas, 506 Santa Fe Ave., La Junta, CO 81050. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Marine from Burlington killed in Calif skydiving accident
PERRIS, Calif. - A Marine from Camp Pendleton who was killed in a skydiving accident in Riverside County has been identified as a Colorado man.
Riverside County Coroner's officials on Wednesday identified the victim as 26-year-old Caleb Medley of Burlington, Colo.
Fire officials say they received a call of a skydiver down shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. When they arrived near the Perris Valley Airport, they found a man had died.
Riverside County sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Lisa McConnell says the man was among a group of Marines who were conducting a military training exercise. Medley's parachute apparently failed to deploy properly and he fell into a storage yard, dying instantly.
McConnell couldn't say how many other Marines were involved or if there were problems with the victim's parachute.
Perris is a popular skydiving area about 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Buzz Fink is president of SkyDive San Diego and works with both civilian and military jumpers.
"You have to go through an approved military freefall course to be freefall certified and you have to do a certain number of jumps every year or six months or three months in order to stay qualified and current," he said.
That includes classroom and practical training, featuring safety checks and double-checks.
There are also fail-safes, such as a reserve chute to back up the main one.
Retired Rear Adm. George Worthington is well experienced, having commanded SEAL Team One years ago. He has more than 1,600 jumps to his credit.
Worthington told 10News.com, "Normally during training, SEALs open at 5,000 feet and if something happens -- the chute malfunctions -- they go into emergency procedures, which is to release the bad parachute and pull your reserve. Most of it's automatically activated."
Fink said it is not unusual to see jump training done off-base.
"They do jump at Camp Pendleton and they jump at other military bases also but lately, they've been having a hard time in the military getting aircraft available for them to do their jumping, so a lot of times, they will contract with a civilian airplane or civilian skydiving schools to facilitate their needs."
10News learned that 15 people have died in skydiving accidents at that airport since 2000.
Although they did not return 10News' calls, Fink says he has trust in Perris Valley Skydiving.
"So much so that I would never have an issue with my kids jumping at that drop zone," he said. "It's a very well-run facility but it's skydiving and sometimes things do happen."
The FAA does not investigate military skydiving accidents. Though the plane was a civilian plane, the exercise was military and the FAA saw no issues with the operation of that plane.