HONOLULU (AP) - The Marine Corps is blaming pilot error and other factors for the nighttime collision of two helicopters that killed 12 Marines off the coast of Hawaii.
Marine Corps Forces Pacific spokesman Lt. Col. Curtis Hill said in a statement Tuesday that an investigation determined the reasons for the January crash.
Hill says contributing factors were low aircraft readiness leading to inadequate pilot proficiency and the squadron's lack of focus on basic aviation practices.
Hill says investigators believe poor light made it difficult for the crews to gauge the distance between the two aircraft.
The CH-53E helicopters were part of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 based in Hawaii.
Among those killed in the crash was 22-year-old Tommy Jardas of Fort Myers, a graduate of Cypress Lake High.
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