Lance Cpl. Jonathan Gierke, 19, from Lawrenceville, Georgia and Pfc Zachary Riffle, 18, from Kingwood, West Virginia were found dead at the scene after the truck they were riding in flipped over, the Marine Times reports.
The Marines flew out of the back of the truck during the accident. Meanwhile, driving the truck at the time was Lance Cpl. Louis Barrera, 19. Local authorities have charged him with two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. They reportedly also suspect the truck was moving too fast when Barrera made the turn.
Other Soldiers Sent to Hospital With Injuries
The accident took place around 1:09 p.m. on Wednesday. The truck rolled over into a highway median as Barrera was trying to make a right turn, and all passengers in the truck fell out of the vehicle, according to Task and Purpose. One of the passengers thrown from the truck was hit by a car that couldn’t pump the brakes in time.
The 17 other Marines hurt in the truck accident then went to area hospitals, per the Marine Times. Three remain in the hospital – two at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina and one at the Naval Medical Center in Camp Lejeune. All three are in stable condition, 1st Lt. Kevin Stapleton announced in a press release.
The rest of the Marines have left the hospital and returned to duty, Stapleton said.
Deceased Marines Had Yet to Deploy
Both Gierke and Riffle were landing support specialists with Combat Logistics Battalion 24, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. They had traveled to Parris Island, South Carolina to begin their tours of duty in the Marines last March.
The combat logistics battalion was their first assignment and neither had deployed yet, according to the press release.
“My sincerest heartfelt condolences are extended to the family, friends, and colleagues of the Marines who lost their lives or were injured in Wednesday’s vehicle mishap,” Brig. Gen. Forrest C. Poole III, commanding general of 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said in a statement.
“Our commanders, chaplains, and medical providers are diligently supporting our Marines and Sailors during this time. We deeply appreciate all of the thoughtful community messages we have received over the past several days,” he added.