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TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – The Department of Defense has released a report claiming that human error and not equipment failure was responsible for last week’s crash on Rainbow Canyon Road involving a Marine testing a pair of experimental rocket-powered roller skates.
Maj. Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Marine base at Twentynine Palms, said that an investigation had failed to uncover any defects in design or negligence on the part of the Acme Corporation. Acme is the principal manufacturer of the Expeditionary Infantry Rolling Platform (EIRP), a revolutionary set of wheeled-footwear they are developing for the Marine Corps.
Miller said that the operator, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey “Marshall” Tito of Flagstaff, Ariz., may have “knowingly or accidentally exceeded the EIRP’s safety margins, resulting in the crash.”
According to Miller, Tito initially seemed to be having no trouble, after he engaged the skate engines and reached an approved speed of 35 mph. However, around the time he approached Camp Wilson something appears to have gone wrong.
According to witnesses, Tito attempted to signal his distress by holding up a sign reading “Yikes!” then suddenly accelerated up to 80 mph, lost control, and crashed through the walls of several Quonset huts, ultimately impacting the side of a food truck.
The accident has caused a further rift between the Pentagon and the Marine Corps, which has insisted on continuing to develop the EIRP despite multiple fatalities and cost overruns that have seen the project balloon up to $25 million, or about the size of an Acme Human Aerostat.
According to the Marines, the EIRP will allow its infantry to skate onto and off of tomorrow’s battlefields at high speeds and obviate the need for large, vulnerable transport vehicles. However, several Marines have been killed or seriously injured during high-speed collisions with large trucks, cacti, and naturally-occurring rock formations. One Marine also received a broken neck when he skated into a large mural of a tunnel painted on the side of a mountain.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Glueck, who runs the Marines’ Combat Development Combat or MCCDC, told Duffel Blog, “As our budgets tighten we have to find both innovative and cost effective ways to propel our infantrymen onto the battlefields of tomorrow.”
Glueck added, “I know it’s easy for some journalist in New York to just say maybe Marines shouldn’t strap an Acme refrigerator on our backs and ski on ice cubes falling out of the open fridge door above our heads. However multiple committees and general officers have reviewed the projects and determined they are essential to both the Defense Strategic Guidance and our Vision and Strategy 2025 program.”
He said that Acme Corporation will continue to be the principal supplier of Marine Corps hardware and that the company will continue with additional plans to develop a giant slingshot to fling individual Marines wearing a full combat load up to fifteen miles.
Some critics have claimed that the EIRP is just a financial boondoggle, or too big to kill at this point, noting the vast network of defense contractors, manufacturers, and funeral homes expecting to do brisk business over the contract.
However, Acme Spokesman Scott Harris pointed out that the EIRP had been the winning design selected by Marine officials, beating out Ajax’s jet-propelled unicycle and DynCorp’s tornado pills. He vowed not to let the tragedy overshadow Acme’s otherwise successful line of Marine Corps products, such as giant spatulas, exploding footballs, and over-the-horizon jet packs.
Both Harris and Glueck have said that as a result of the crash, the Marine Corps plans to equip all EIRP users with an Acme Instant Tunnel.