Sub sailor pays restitution after crashing stolen van
November 18, 2007
A U.S. sailor accused of crashing a stolen vehicle while drunk early Wednesday morning left the country with his submarine Friday, officials confirmed.
South Korean legal officials expedited the case, choosing to have the sailor pay more than $10,000 in restitution instead of facing a possible trial, according to U.S. Navy officials.
South Korean prosecutors, contacted via phone Friday, declined to provide the exact amount the sailor paid.
The sailor, whom the Navy declines to name, “was able to get under way with the submarine” when it left port early Friday, according to Lt. Cmdr. Greg Kuntz, a 7th Submarine Group spokesman from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.
“Obviously … this isn’t done as far as the Navy is concerned,” Kuntz said during a phone interview. He said Navy officials are “evaluating and determining the appropriate action and level of action.”
Kuntz also thanked the South Korean officials for their work in the case, saying the Navy is “appreciative of how rapidly … they did the investigation.”
The sailor, a crew member of the submarine USS Chicago, was in South Korea on a regularly scheduled port call to Chinhae Naval Base.
Police have said the sailor stole a van with the keys inside it in Changwon, near Chinhae, around 1 a.m. Wednesday. Police said he crashed the van into a parked station wagon and that the sailor’s blood alcohol level was 0.154 when he was questioned.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.