Lance Cpl. Aanesha Connor, 20, was one of 18 Marines to have died in a car crash since October 2021.

But, like all those Marines who died, she was much more than a statistic to those who knew her.

Family and friends described the New Jersey native to Coffee or Die Magazine as funny, tough despite her small stature and a dedicated Marine.

“My daughter was a beautiful, beautiful soul,” Asia Connor, the Marine’s mother, told Coffee or Die Magazine. “She had such a great spirit. She illuminated a room. She was just a wonderful person.”

The administrative clerk at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, died after a pickup truck struck her car in El Centro, California, on Nov. 20, 2022, Coffee or Die reported. The driver of the pickup truck, Joseph Jiansheng Zhou, was charged with driving under the influence and gross vehicular manslaughter.

Car accidents were the foremost cause of mishap deaths for Marines in the 2022 fiscal year, with motorcycle accidents close behind, according to data provided by the Naval Safety Command to Marine Corps Times.

That has held true over the past five years, according to the Naval Safety Command data, which covers mishaps that killed active-duty Marines and Marine reservists who were in an active status.

But suicide was an even greater cause of death overall for Marines in 2022, with 55 active-duty Marines dying by suicide between the end of September 2021 and the beginning of October 2022, according to data released by the Pentagon in December 2022. Eight Marine reservists died by suicide in that same time frame.

In the previous fiscal year, 53 active-duty Marines and 14 Reserve Marines died by suicide.

Data on deaths caused by illness weren’t immediately available, but Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger said in December 2022 that no Marines had died of COVID-19 since April 2022.

Forty-eight Marines died in accidents in the 2022 fiscal year.

In addition to 16 Marines who died in car accidents, 10 died in motorcycle accidents. In only one of those deaths was the Marine determined to be under the influence of alcohol, according to Naval Safety Command’s official determination.

Since October 2022, one Marine apart from Connor has died in an accident, also involving a car and also on Nov. 20, 2022.

Nine Marines died in flight mishaps in 2022, after no flight deaths in the previous two years.

An MV-22B Osprey crash in California in June killed five Marines: Cpl. Nathan E. Carlson, 21, of Winnebago, Illinois; Capt. Nicholas P. Losapio, 31, of Rockingham, New Hampshire; Cpl. Seth D. Rasmuson, 21, of Johnson, Wyoming; Capt. John J. Sax, 33, of Placer, California; and Lance Cpl. Evan A. Strickland, 19, of Valencia, New Mexico.

The investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing, according to Maj. Mason Englehart, a spokesman for the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the Marine’s unit.

In March 2022, an Osprey crash in Norway claimed the lives of four Marines: Capt. Matthew J. Tomkiewicz, 27, of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Capt. Ross A. Reynolds, 27, of Leominster, Massachusetts; Gunnery Sgt. James W. Speedy, 30, of Cambridge, Ohio; and Cpl. Jacob M. Moore, 24, of Catlettsburg, Kentucky.

Following an investigation, Corps officials attributed that crash to pilot error.

At least three Marines died in the last calendar year in circumstances that are under investigation: Pfc. Javier Pong, 18, died in September 2022 during recruit training near San Diego. Cpl. Elwin Ramirez, 21, died in December 2022 while serving at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. The same month, Marine Raider Staff Sgt. Samuel Lecce, 32, died of “a non-combat related incident” in Iraq.

Edison Ramirez, the younger brother of the corporal who died in Nigeria, told local newspaper The Lodi News-Sentinel that his brother was a caring person and a dedicated Marine.

“No one has told me, and I can’t think of, a single bad thing about my brother,” Edison Ramirez said.

Veterans experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 988 and select option 1 to speak with a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit for assistance.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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