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Body recovered

ordnance likely killed Perris man

February 22, 2002|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

CHOCOLATE MOUNTAINS — The county Coroner's Office on Thursday recovered the body of a man who died after he reportedly stepped on live ordnance in a restricted Naval gunnery range in this area of east Imperial County.

The man was identified as Charles Michael Tuttle, 42, of Perris.

His body was spotted by members of the U.S. Marine Corps late Wednesday as they flew over the gunnery range in the Chocolate Mountains.

Officials from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma said this morning the military is investigating circumstances surrounding the death.

A Marine spokesman said there were no details to release regarding the investigation.

Imperial County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Charles Jernigan said Tuttle was in the gunnery range scrapping for metal.

He did not release specific details of how that conclusion has been reached, stating only that "all indications are that he was scrapping for metal."

County Coroner Investigator Deputy Rick Williams said Tuttle likely died no more than 36 hours before he was found.


Coroner Investigator Sgt. Rick Macken said in an earlier interview the man may have been in the gunnery range by himself and was unable to reach medical aid after he sustained his injuries.

Officials have said based on the injuries it appears Tuttle stepped on live ordnance.

His left leg below the knee suffered the primary brunt of the explosion. Shrapnel from the device penetrated other parts of his body, including vital organs.

An autopsy will be conducted Saturday to determine the official cause of death.

Jernigan and Macken both said people go onto the gunnery range to collect metal and sell it.

Jernigan added, "It's a mine field out there. It's extremely dangerous."

Macken said some ordnance dropped by military aircraft does not detonate when it comes in contact with the ground.

Instead it becomes buried and movement in the area can cause the ordnance to explode.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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