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The entrance to Camp Lejeune is show in this undated file photo.

The entrance to Camp Lejeune is show in this undated file photo. (The Gaston Gazette/TNS)

A 19-year-old Marine has been charged in the rollover accident near Camp Lejeune that left two Marines dead and 17 others injured when the 7-ton tactical vehicle they were riding in rolled over on a highway near the North Carolina base.

Two Marines are in critical condition after the vehicle crashed near the intersection of North Carolina Highway 210 and U.S. Highway 17 at about 1 p.m., authorities said. The accident involved a medium tactical vehicle replacement, commonly referred to as a 7-ton, which is used mainly for transporting troops and equipment, the Marine Corps said in a statement.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol identified the driver as Louis Barrera of Springfield, Tenn., saying he was charged with exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

The vehicle was making a right turn when it overturned, ejecting the Marines onto the road, highway patrol Sgt. Devin Rich told reporters in a news briefing.

A second military vehicle trailing behind the 7-ton truck did not stop in time and hit one of the ejected Marines, Rich said. The investigation is ongoing.

Two Marines airlifted from the scene were in critical condition at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, the Marine Corps said later. The other 15 were taken to the Navy hospital on the Marine base and were in stable condition, the Corps said.

All 19 casualties were active-duty Marines serving with 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, the service said.

“Our unit is grateful to all first responders that provided aid to our service members,” the statement said.

The names of the dead were being withheld until 24 hours after notification of the next of kin, the Marine Corps said.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper expressed his condolences for the family and friends of the Marines who were killed.

“We are so proud of our military heroes at Camp Lejeune and across North Carolina,” Cooper said on Twitter. “Our prayers go out to them.”

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said he and his wife, Susan Tillis, founder of a nonprofit that provides assistance to military families and veterans, were praying for the families of the dead and for the recovery of the injured Marines.

“God Bless our service members who put their lives at risk every day to protect our nation,” Tillis wrote on Twitter.

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Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.
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Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.
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