An active-duty U.S. Marine is facing charges in North Carolina for causing a fatal head-on collision with a motorcycle rider just west of Camp LeJeune while driving a military vehicle. The deadly crash occurred on NC 210 outside of the community of Sneads Ferry on the afternoon of April 25, 2016.
Multiple news outlets identified the deceased motorcyclist as 68-year-old retired educator Thomas Eugene Martin. The driver of the Marine Corps truck reportedly crossed the center line of the highway when he swerved after noticing that vehicles ahead of him had stopped suddenly. The apparent attempt to avoid a rear-end collision led to the deadly head-on.
Investigators did not release details on why the truck driver found it necessary to try an evasive driving maneuver. Perhaps he had been speeding or following too closely. It is also possible that he became distracted and took his eyes off the road ahead.
Martin, the motorcyclist, died instantly, and NC Highway Patrol officers charged the Marine with driving left of center and causing a death while operating a motor vehicle. The Marine has been released to his unit but will have to answer to the alleged criminal violations of state law in civilian court. It is unclear if military prosecutors will take actions against the truck driver.
Another issue raised by this possibly avoidable tragedy is whether the family of the motorcycle rider who lost his life will be able to make wrongful death claims against the Marine truck driver or the Marine Corps itself. Civil liability for injuries and deaths caused by members of the military performing their assigned duties is difficult to allege and prove. The crash victim's survivors should consider consulting with an experienced North Carolina wrongful death attorney who also knows the ins and outs of military law and sovereign immunity.