Sergeant charged in fatal accident
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A U.S. Army sergeant who allegedly fled the scene of a fatal car accident near Osan Air Base early Friday likely will be turned over to South Korean police, an 8th Army spokesman said.
Sgt. Jerry Olken was charged by the military with fleeing the scene of a fatal accident after being detained by his chain of command and turned over to Osan security forces, said Lt. Col. Steven Boylan.
Olken is assigned to the 143rd Air Defense Artillery, and he is stationed at Suwon Air Base south of Seoul, officials said.
Olken’s Hyundai Sonata struck a compact car around 12:10 a.m., killing Ki Kyong-sun, a passenger in that car’s back seat, said Sgt. So Yong-sok of Hwaseong Police Station.
The accident occurred near Highway 1’s Suwon exit, Boylan said.
Another passenger was in critical condition at Ajou University Hospital, he said. Two additional passengers and the driver, identified as Lee Chong-sung, 30, were treated at Seoul Hospital, So said. Olken’s car did not stop at a stop signal, So said.
Olken and two other soldiers allegedly ran from the car after the crash, South Korea’s state-run Korea Broadcasting System channel reported Friday morning. An identification card, a beret and a helmet were left in the car, So said.
Olken was off-duty and driving a private vehicle, Boylan said. “We believe at this point primary jurisdiction would be with the South Korean authorities,” he said.
Col. Ronald M. Buffkin, commander 6th Cavalry Brigade, contacted Ki’s family Friday morning. The command will give “as fast as possible” a solatia payment — money given to help with immediate costs but not an admission of fault — to the family, Boylan said.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of the deceased,” Boylan said. “We continue to do everything we can to prevent these types of accidents from occurring, whether on duty or off duty.”
Army leaders in South Korea also released an official statement saying the command was “deeply saddened” by the loss of life.
The accident is under investigation by military authorities and South Korean police.