A Tragic Accident

The United States Navy has identified the sailor killed in a motor vehicle accident near Jacumba, California, last Friday as Electronics Technician 2nd Class John Deltoro, age 29. Deltoro was killed during the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene. Four other fellow sailors in the vehicle were injured and taken to local hospitals. Two of those remain in critical condition; the others are in stable condition. The injured servicemembers’ names are being withheld according to Navy policy.

All five sailors (four males and one female) were assigned to West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare units. The crash occurred as they were returning to San Diego from training at Camp Billy Machen, a desert training facility operated by Naval Special Warfare Command near Niland, southeast of the Salton Sea in Imperial County.

Firefighters and Border Patrol agents work to rescue the occupants trapped in the wreckage of a Navy van after it crashed Friday morning off Interstate 8 near Jacumba Hot Springs. Image courtesy of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection

California Highway Patrol (CHP) spokesperson Officer Travis Garrow explained that the sailors’ Chevrolet Express Van ran off the roadway shortly before 10 a.m. near Carrizo Gorge Road as it was headed west toward San Diego. Garrow explained that the vehicle went down a dirt embankment and slammed into a large bolder. Deltoro had been sitting in the middle rear seat of the van.

Three of the more critically injured occupants were taken to a nearby US Border Patrol helipad, where they were flown to hospitals in San Diego. The remaining injured passenger was taken to a local hospital via ground ambulance.

Camp Billy Machen is a Navy SEAL desert warfare training facility named after the first SEAL killed in Vietnam.

CHP investigators are trying to figure out where the passengers were sitting at the time of the accident and whether or not they were wearing seatbelts. The press is being told that drugs and/or alcohol are not suspected to be a factor in the wreck at this point in the investigation.

In Memorium

Deltoro was a native of Augusta, Georgia, and joined the service in 2012

Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, the commanding officer of Naval Special Warfare Command, said in a statement:

“John was one of our best combat support technicians, enabling our force to conduct highly complex and high-risk missions in the nation’s defense.”