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CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — A South Korean woman died Friday afternoon after being struck by a U.S. military vehicle, officials said.

Cpl. Ju Sang-gkyo of the Yangu police station’s accident investigation division identified the driver only as Pfc. Bryant of the 8th Army’s 55th Military Police Company. The soldier was being questioned at the police station Friday evening, accompanied by a translator and other military officials.

Ju said the woman was pulling her yogurt delivery cart on Peace Street in front of the Dongducheon Orthopedics Hospital when she was struck by the 2.5-ton vehicle.

Ju said the woman was taken to the Dongducheon Orthopedics Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Park Kyung-rul, of a local funeral home to which the body was taken, identified the woman as Kim Myung-ja. Park said Kim had no husband or children, but her brother, sister and in-laws were gathering at the home Friday night.

Lt. Col. Thomas Budzyna, 8th Army spokesman, said the off-post accident involved a light medium tactical vehicle operated by 8th Military Police Brigade soldiers transporting supplies and equipment.

Soldiers involved in the accident are being offered support, Budzyna said.

Budzyna said military officials “have already taken steps to reach out to the family of the woman killed and to ensure condolences, mourning and (solatium) payments are made in accordance with the Korean tradition.”

The solatium payment expresses remorse, but not guilt, military officials have said.

Budzyna couldn’t say whether the vehicle was part of a convoy or a pre-convoy rehearsal, in which drivers pre-inspect the route and talk about various danger zones.

U.S. 8th Army commander Lt. Gen. Charles C. Campbell apologized to the 51-year-old victim’s family in a news release issued Friday afternoon.

“The men and women of 8th U.S. Army offer their utmost sympathy to the family and friends touched by this unfortunate accident,” Campbell was quoted as saying. “U.S. Army officials will make contact with the family to personally express our condolences for their sufferings.”

The 8th U.S. Army is fully cooperating with the Korean National Police to investigate Friday’s accident, according to the statement.

Ju said Bryant was to be returned to military custody before midnight Friday.

After a June 2002 accident in which two South Korean girls were crushed to death by a tracked U.S. military vehicle, the 2nd Infantry Division — which includes most of the soldiers stationed in Area I — implemented safety improvements that mandated rehearsals supervised by senior officers before all convoys, 2nd ID commander Maj. Gen. George A. Higgins told Stars and Stripes in March.

At the time, the 2nd ID released data showing accidents within the division fell from 292 in 2002 to 162 in 2004 — a 45 percent drop.

Lessons learned from the 2002 tragedy had been applied throughout Area I and had improved safety throughout 8th Army, which recorded its safest year in 2004, Budzyna said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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