Two Camp Lejeune Marines charged with assault in campground hit-and-run that might leave another Marine in a wheelchair
North Carolina law enforcement officials have charged two Camp Lejeune Marines with assault for allegedly striking a tent at a campground with a truck, injuring two campers including another Marine.
Lance Cpls. Jonathan Chicas and Alfredo Morales were both arrested Saturday and charged with assault with a deadly weapon causing serious injury after striking the campers in the Croatan National Forest and fleeing in their pickup truck, said Maj. David McFadyen of the Craven County Sheriff’s Office. The Marines remained in the Craven County jail on Wednesday and could face additional charges, McFadyen said.
Investigators believe the incident was unintentional, he added.
Nonetheless, both victims were left with serious injuries that required hospitalization. McFadyen said the victims were another Marine and a civilian woman. The woman was released from the hospital Tuesday, but the Marine remains hospitalized “with serious injuries, and [he] may be confined to a wheelchair for some period,” McFadyen said.
Morales was identified as the truck’s driver and Chicas was a passenger, according to a news report from WCTI News in New Bern, N.C. The station reported Camp Lejeune authorities detained the suspects and turned them over to the Craven County Sheriff’s Office after identifying Morales’ truck.
Marine officials are aware of the incident, and are supporting law enforcement officials in the investigations, said Capt. Robert Vachon, a spokesman for the Camp Lejeune-based 2nd Marine Logistics Group. Vachon declined further comment on the incident, referring questions to law enforcement.
Morales, 21, and Chicas, 25, are both motor vehicle operators assigned to the Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Transportation Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, according to service records provided by the Corps. Morales is from Stockbridge, Mich., and Chicas is from Riverside, Calif., according to the records.
In an interview Tuesday with WCTI, the female victim Sara Rojas said she did not know how much longer her boyfriend, Justin York, would be hospitalized. She said he suffered a broken pelvis and ribs in the incident that left him covered in blood.
Rojas said she did not understand how the driver could leave the scene after striking their tent, where they were asleep.
“He [the driver] didn’t even acknowledge me or Justin. So, I thought, am I dead? Why can’t he see me? Why doesn’t he care?” she told the TV station. “It was just so much pain.”