Naples High grad killed in Marine training exercise

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Lance Cpl. Austin Ruiz

NAPLES, Fla. — A Naples High School graduate was killed during a Marine training exercise, his family said.

Lance Cpl. Austin Ruiz, 19, died Friday at the 29 Palms Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California.

Another Marine was injured in the live fire exercise, a standard procedure known as ITX that infantry and some support units typically complete prior to deployment, the combat center said.

The death and the injury were accidental, though an investigation is ongoing, according to the combat center.

Ruiz leaves behind a fiancee. Family members who confirmed the death said they were in shock and that it was too soon for them to elaborate further.

Clifford Jean-Pierre, who went to middle and high school with Ruiz, remembers him as a joyful person who wanted to help others.

“He always had a smile on his face,” Jean-Pierre said. “He was always nice to people. He was always cracking jokes. He would give people advice on certain situations if they were going through something.”

The news of Ruiz’s death comes shortly after a Saturday ceremony to dedicate a memorial at Cypress Lake High School to Marine Cpl. Thomas “Tommy” Jardas, a Fort Myers native who died in a 2016 helicopter crash.

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