2 Marines Killed, 17 Injured in North Carolina Military Vehicle Crash; Fellow Marine Charged

A U.S. Marine in North Carolina has been charged in the deaths of two of his fellow Marines after he rolled over a military vehicle in a Wednesday afternoon crash in which 17 additional service members were injured.

Louis Barrera, 19, of Tennessee, was reportedly charged with one count of exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. A court date for Barrera has not yet been set.

The crash occurred near North Carolina Highway 210 in Jacksonville around 1 p.m. ET, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Jacksonville is home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, a major amphibious assault training center for the Marines, and the fatal wreck occurred about eight miles from the camp.

Among the injured Marines, two were listed in critical condition. The two casualties were members of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, said the DoD.

The names of the deceased are being withheld for 24 hours to allow for next of kin to be notified.

The vehicle involved was known as a medium tactical vehicle replacement or "seven ton," which the DoD stated is used mostly to transport troops and equipment. It was carrying a number of Marines at the time of the crash.

Military Truck
A U.S. Marine has been charged in the deaths of two other Marines following a rollover crash in North Carolina that caused soldiers to be ejected from a transport truck. iStock/Getty

The accident began when Barrera attempted to make a right turn onto U.S. Highway 17, stated North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sergeant Devin Rich. That is when Barrera lost control of the vehicle, causing it to completely roll over onto the median, police said.

The rollover caused a number of Marines to be ejected from the vehicle. At least one of the deceased soldiers was then struck by a follow-up military vehicle that was unable to stop in time, state troopers added.

A massive turnout from first responders followed. This included local sheriff's deputies, as well as military rescue workers from Camp Lejeune.

Traffic was reportedly backed up for miles as crews worked to remove the overturned vehicle from the road. The highway was reopened approximately five hours after the crash.

The DoD stated that an investigation into the cause of the crash is underway, to be conducted by the state highway patrol. It is unclear if drugs or alcohol played a factor.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued a statement on Facebook offering condolences for the victims.

"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," Cooper wrote. "We are so proud of our military heroes at Camp Lejeune and across North Carolina. Our prayers go out to them."

North Carolina Senator Tom Tillis echoed a similar sentiment in a statement on Twitter.

"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," Tillis wrote. "God Bless our servicemembers who put their lives at risk every day to protect our nation."

Newsweek has reached out to the U.S. Marine Corps for comment.