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Marine’s Death In Freak Accident Hits Coal City Hard

Derrick Blakley Derrick Blakley
Derrick Blakley is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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(CBS) – A young Marine from the Chicago area was just starting his career when he was killed in a freak accident during a training flight on an Osprey aircraft.

Marine Steven Hancock died after falling out of the aircraft that just left Elizabethtown, North Carolina. It took three days for searchers to find his body.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley traveled to Coal City where he attended high school.

In downstate Coal City, the death of Marine Steven Hancock cuts deep. Just days ago, his younger sister graduated from the high school and his mother works with special needs children at the elementary school.

“This one really hit close to home for us, so it’s been tough,” said Coal City Schools Superintendent Kent Bugg.

Hancock was on a training exercise Monday in North Carolina aboard a tilt-rotor osprey when somehow, he went missing. Soldiers and civilians mounted an extensive search. His body was discovered Tuesday in a blueberry field.

Steven Hancock graduated from Coal City High School in 2011 and no one was surprised when, in march the next year, he signed up with the Marines. Commitment to service had already propelled Hancock to reach Eagle Scout.

“Lots of his friends said he’d been wanting to go into the military for a while, so it wasn’t spur of the moment type of decision. It was something he wanted to do,” said Mitchell Hamann, Coal City High School Principal.

As the military’s investigation into Hancock’s death continues,folks in Coal City remember his character.

“He was a quiet leader who led by example. He was dedicated to service,” said Bugg.

The Marines’ website says the Osprey is a very effective aircraft because it has the speed of a turbo-prop airplane but can land like a helicopter. However, published reports say the aircraft has been involved in several crashes, some attributed to pilot error.