3 Marines killed in California car accident

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A single-car crash in Dana Point, California, has killed three U.S. Marines and critically injured the driver, who is also a Marine. The car apparently crashed into a tree. Two of the Marines died at the scene and a third died later at a hospital.

Speed was a factor in the early-morning Tuesday car accident, according to officials from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The car was traveling on a wet road where the posted speed limit was 40 mph when the driver lost control and ran into a tree, causing the car to wrap around it. "We don't have an exact speed yet," said a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department. "We do know it was over the speed limit and certainly unsafe for the conditions."

The Marines were likely on their way back to Camp Pendleton, where they were stationed, when the crash occurred.

The spokesman also said the driver was under the influence of alcohol, though his blood-alcohol level wasn't disclosed. Toxicology reports on the passengers aren't expected for several weeks.

The crash was the second fatal traffic accident in Southern California to involve enlisted Marines within the week. A 24-year-old Marine corporal was killed Sunday in a roll-over accident in San Diego on Sunday. The driver in that crash is also a Marine and was accused of drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter.

Military jobs can be very stressful, and it's possible that the Marines in both accidents were blowing off a little steam when the accidents happened. But whether you're a civilian or in the military, there's no excuse for speeding or driving while intoxicated. The families of victims in both these crashes could decide to file wrongful death lawsuits against the drivers, regardless of whether the drivers are accused and convicted of drunk driving or any other offenses in the crashes.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Speed, alcohol were factors in crash that killed 3 Marines," Nicole Santa Cruz, Feb. 15, 2012

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