JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Two Marines were killed and two others were airlifted to a local hospital after a crash involving a military vehicle from Camp Lejeune on Wednesday.
The driver of the vehicle, Louis Barrera, 19, of Springfield, Tenn., is facing charges of exceeding safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle, according to the NC State Highway Patrol.
The crash happened in the area of US Hwy. 17 and NC Hwy. 210 in Onslow County, about eight miles from Camp Lejeune, around 1 p.m. Troopers investigating the crash said the military truck overturned after attempting a right turn onto US Hwy. 17 from NC Hwy. 210. It overturned into the median of US 17.
There were 19 Marines in all in the vehicle, 17 who were ejected during the crash. A second military truck that was behind the one that overturned was unable to stop in time and struck one of the Marines that was ejected, troopers said.
Sgt. Devin Rich with the N.C. State Highway Patrol confirmed the two dead in a press conference held around 4:40 p.m. Officials said Wednesday night in a press release the two other Marines that were airlifted by helicopter were sent to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.
Onslow County Sheriff’s deputies assisted at the scene along with the NC State Highway Patrol and military police, fire and rescue from Camp Lejeune. Firefighters from Turkey Creek Fire Department also responded.
Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, military crews worked to remove the crashed vehicle from the scene so it could be returned to Camp Lejeune as part of the investigation. Traffic was backed up and was being diverted as crews worked at the site of the crash.
The roads were reopened again to traffic just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.
A Twitter post from 2nd Marine Logistics Group earlier on Wednesday confirmed the rollover crash in the Jacksonville area. The post read: “We are aware of a vehicle rollover in Jacksonville, North Carolina, involving service members with 2nd MLG. We are working closely with @camp_lejeune and Onslow County officials to gather details regarding this incident. We will release more information as it becomes available.”
Wednesday evening, Gov. Roy Cooper posted his remarks on the crash to Twitter, saying: “I send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the U.S. Marines who lost their lives in a tragic accident today in Onslow County. We are so proud of our military heroes at Camp Lejeune and across North Carolina. Our prayers go out to them.”
Sen. Thom Tillis also posted comments on the crash to his Twitter account, saying: “Susan & I are praying for the families of the Marines who were tragically killed in an accident at Camp Lejeune, & we are praying for the full recovery of the Marines who were injured. God Bless our servicemembers who put their lives at risk every day to protect our nation.”
Troopers with the NC Highway Patrol along with Camp Lejeune military police were handling the overall scene and were working together initially on the investigation into the cause of the crash.