Americans on Okinawa involved in weekend incidents
December 18, 2002
NAHA, Okinawa — A high-speed chase and a dunk in a cold stream last Saturday landed a Marine lance corporal confined to his base.
It was one of several incidents allegedly involving Marines and military dependents in Okinawa over the weekend.
Besides the soaked Marine in Naha, Okinawa police investigated two Marines involved in a scuffle with each other in a taxi after a night of drinking.
Police also seek three teenage military dependents accused of assaulting a cabbie Saturday night while he was taking them home from the Camp Courtney Friendship Festival.
Okinawa police said they’re investigating whether Lance Cpl. John Stewart, 20, stole a car in Naha on Saturday, eluded a police checkpoint, raced through Naha city streets and abandoned the car, diving into a stream to elude capture.
Stewart, assigned to the 3rd Forces Service Support Group at Camp Kinser, later was taken into custody and turned over to his command and now is restricted to his base, according to a Marine spokesman.
Okinawa police said Stewart is thought to have stolen a compact car in Ginowan at 1 a.m. after noticing it had keys in the ignition. About an hour later, he was stopped at a police sobriety and traffic checkpoint in Naha but sped away during questioning. Stewart led pursuing police to Naha’s Shuri Kubagawa district, where he left the car, ran down a city street to a small stream and jumped in, police said.
Okinawa police said officers spotted the Marine about half an hour later and restrained him.
A police spokesman said Stewart admitted stealing a car but denied he had been driving under the influence of alcohol.
Okinawa police said they expect to seek an auto theft indictment against him later this week.
Later Saturday, two Marines assigned to Futenma Marine Corps Air Station got into a fight while returning to base in a taxi, Okinawa police said.
A police spokesman said that around 9:20 p.m. on Highway 330 in Kitanakagusuku, the two Marines, both thought to have been intoxicated, started to argue in the cab. The driver stopped, and the two Marines took their fight into the street, where one sustained facial injuries, the spokesman said.
Okinawa police said because the fight was between two servicemembers, the pair was turned over to military authorities.
In another incident involving a taxi, Okinawa police say three people believed to be teenage military dependents assaulted a cab driver around 9:45 p.m. on Camp McToureous, a military family housing area in Ginowan. The driver, in his 60s, told police he had picked up the three boys at the nearby Camp Courtney Friendship Festival and they attacked him after they paid their fare.
A police spokesman said the driver was treated for facial lacerations. Military police are aiding the investigation.
Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.