Former Okinawa dependent charged in fatal 2008 accident
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Federal authorities have filed charges against a former Okinawa dependent four years after a drunken-driving accident killed a military teen, according to documents filed in a southern Texas district court last week.
James L. Yeakey, 24, is charged with involuntary manslaughter for speeding while intoxicated and causing the head-on collision that killed his passenger, 17-year-old John Benjamin Hall, near the base’s exchange gate in 2008, U.S. prosecutors allege in a July 16 filing.
At the time, Japanese police said Yeakey had been drinking and was driving twice the speed limit when his Toyota Celica ran over a median on Highway 330 and collided head-on with a truck.
While Okinawa police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the incident, no charges were filed at the time.
Yeakey now faces up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, according to the Department of Justice.
It was not immediately clear why authorities waited for four years to charge Yeakey, who was publicly named as the main suspect in 2008.
Yeakey, who was 20 at the time, was a former base employee and living on Okinawa in 2008 as the dependent of a sailor. He now lives in Spring, Texas, the Justice Department said.
Hall and another teen critically injured in the incident were students at Kubasaki High School. Both were out past the military curfew and the injured underage passenger had been drinking, Okinawa police said.
Yeakey was driving south at about 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 mph) in a 50 kilometer zone early on the morning of March 23 when he struck another vehicle and veered over the median into oncoming traffic, according to police.