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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany – Five American soldiers were detained near Grafenwöhr Training Area on Monday after police say one of them threw a crowbar from a vehicle, striking a German motorcyclist in the head and seriously injuring him.

Auerbach deputy police chief Roman Markert said Wednesday that the incident happened at 6:20 a.m. on Monday as the soldiers drove near Tanzfleck, a small town bordering the training area.

One member of the group threw the crowbar out of the vehicle’s sunroof at a German soldier who was riding his motorcycle in the opposite direction, Markert said.

“The crowbar hit him right at the helmet and destroyed the helmet,” Markert said.

The 33-year-old victim, who crashed after he was struck, suffered facial fractures and a broken jaw that required several hours of surgery, he said.

“Even though the injuries were serious, they were not life-threatening,” Markert said. “The victim had great luck. If the crowbar would have hit him somewhere else, he could have died.”

Witnesses alerted police, who initially thought they were responding to a hit-and-run accident, Markert said.

It turned out police were already searching for the soldiers’ yellow Volkswagen Golf in connection with an earlier incident in Amberg in which the door to a prostitute’s apartment was damaged, Markert said.

Ten minutes after the alleged crowbar attack, the soldiers were taken into custody by U.S. military police when they attempted to enter the training area at a gate near Tanzfleck, he said.

“All of them (except the driver) were very drunk,” Markert said.

Blood-alcohol tests were taken and the results are pending, he said.

During police questioning, one of the soldiers admitted throwing the crowbar, the deputy police chief said.

The soldiers, whose identities have not been released, have not been charged with any crimes at this point.

A statement released by the Joint Multinational Training Command said U.S. military authorities and German officials are investigating the incident.

“The Grafenwöhr Military Community extends its sympathy to the victim and his family,” the Army statement said. “We consider ourselves part of the local community and will work in conjunction with German authorities to fully investigate the circumstances of the incident.”

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