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Manteca Marine dies in Missouri sinkhole

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POSTED September 19, 2013 11:10 p.m.

A Manteca High graduate assigned to a Missouri Marine Corps post died late Monday night when he plummeted more than 70-feet to the bottom of an unexposed sinkhole.

Curtis Powelson, 31, was tracking a deer that he believed he had shot in the backyard of his home near Fort Leonard Wood – a rural Army Base with a Marine Corps detachment in the Missouri Oaks – when authorities believe that the ground beneath him gave way. He had called his wife earlier that evening to tell her of his plans. When he didn’t return home she called police to report him missing.

His body was discovered early Tuesday morning.

A combination of thick ground brush and dimly-lit conditions made the search for Powelson difficult and dangerous. It wasn’t until two local firefighters almost fell into the same pit that they discovered what had happened. The instability of the ground – which may have been exacerbated by recent rains – made the recovery process challenging.

The Marine Corps declined to comment on Powelson’s duty status and have yet to release any information about his death. The Pulaski County Coroner’s office confirmed that was in fact on active duty.

Powelson leaves behind a wife and a young child.

Fort Leonard Wood, located in south-central Missouri, is a United States Army installation that houses the world’s largest Marine Corps detachment not assignment to an individual base. It is home to the branch’s Motor Transport Instruction School, Military Police Instruction School, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Weapons Defense School and the Engineer Equipment Instruction School.

To contact Jason Campbell, email or call (209) 249-3544.

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