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Florida Gov. Rick Scott to lower flags in honor of Marine killed in training accident

By SHELBY REYNOLDS | The Naples Daily News (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 19, 2017

Florida Gov. Rick Scott released a statement Wednesday in response to a training incident in California that killed a Marine from Naples.

Lance Cpl. Austin Ruiz, 19, had been at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, for about 1 1/2 weeks when the fatal incident occurred Friday, his mother, Sheara Ruiz, said in an interview Tuesday.

Scott will honor Ruiz "by ordering the lowering of flags in the coming days," according to the release, which also noted that Scott was "heartbroken to hear" of Ruiz's death.

"Like all of our incredible servicemen and women, Austin put his life on the line in order to defend our families and our freedom, and we will do all we can to honor his sacrifice," Scott stated in the release. "We join all Floridians in mourning for this fallen hero and praying for his many loved ones during this unimaginably difficult time.

"We hope that they may find comfort in remembering Austin’s bravery and dedication to selflessly serving our country.”

Nell Ruiz confirmed the death of his son.

The base, "with heavy hearts," announced the death in a Facebook post Saturday but did not identify Austin Ruiz and noted that another unidentified Marine was injured in the incident.

The Marines were conducting unit training in preparation for the start of Integrated Training Exercise 2-17. The exercise, typically known as ITX, is a 29-day training regimen that focuses on "combined-arms maneuver warfare during global contingency operations," according to an email statement Tuesday from base spokeswoman Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo.

Ayala-Lo offered no more details about the incident, which is under investigation, according to the base's Facebook post. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Office is not involved in the investigation, spokeswoman Cindy Bachman confirmed Tuesday.

Scott's release noted that Ruiz served as a combat engineer with 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, which is based in Okinawa, Japan. Sheara Ruiz said Tuesday that after her son completed the ITX training in southern California, he was to be deployed to Okinawa for two years.

Twentynine Palms is in the Mojave Desert of Southern California's San Bernardino County, about 150 miles east of Los Angeles.

"He did touch a lot of people in this community," Nell Ruiz said Monday of his son, who attended Naples High School. "He was very loved by all of us."

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©2017 the Naples Daily News (Naples, Fla.)
Visit the Naples Daily News (Naples, Fla.) at www.naplesnews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Lance Cpl. Austin Ruiz, 19, had been at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, for about 1 1/2 weeks when the fatal incident occurred.
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