A U.S. marine has been charged for driving a vehicle that was involved in a fatal crash that left two marines dead and 17 others seriously injured after the military truck flipped over on a North Carolina highway on Wednesday. Louis Barrera, 19, of Springfield, Tennessee, was charged with one count of exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.
The crash took place around 1 pm at the intersection of US 17 and Highway 210 between Verona and Holly Ridge, about five miles from Camp Lejeune. Barrera was driving the vehicle that overturned and that speed was a "proximate cause of the collision."
Troopers responded to the crash around 1 pm on Wednesday after a 7-ton military vehicle tried to turn right from N.C. 210 onto U.S. 17 when it overturned into the median. As a result of the impact, 17 passengers in the back of the vehicle were ejected, according to NCSHP.
Tragedy truck when a second military truck following the first struck one of the ejected passengers, WCTI-TV reported. In all, 15 were taken to the hospital, two were airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, who were in serious condition, while two died at the scene, NCSHP said.
The two marines who died weren't identified. Barrera, who was driving the 7-ton truck, was later arrested and charged with exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, according to the highway patrol.
Who's at Fault?
Sergeant Devin Rich with the Highway Patrol said the exact speed at which Barrera was driving was still undetermined as of Wednesday night. An investigation has been launched and the exact reason that led to the accident is yet to be revealed.
"We're conducting a thorough investigation involving our reconstruction unit along with our district troopers," Rich said.
"They're in the process of doing the measurements needed to obtain a speed or approximate speed they were traveling. We do know it was a little too fast for the right turn they were attempting to make."
All of the service members were based out of Camp Lejeune and were part of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Lejeune, the second largest Marine base in the country behind California's Camp Pendleton.
"We are aware of a vehicle rollover in Jacksonville, North Carolina, involving service members with 2nd MLG," they tweeted.
Meanwhile, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper expressed his condolences on social media shortly after the fatal crash.
"I send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the US Marines who lost their lives in a tragic accident today in Onslow County," Cooper posted on Facebook Wednesday.
"We are so proud of our military heroes at Camp Lejeune and across North Carolina. Our prayers go out to them."