Local News

Soldier Charged in Fatal Wreck Banned From Driving

Posted December 20, 2006 1:03 p.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2006 6:57 p.m. EST

— A 25-year-old soldier charged in connection with a Monday wreck that killed three people will be confined to Fort Bragg and banned from driving, a judge said Wednesday.

Clayton Morgan, 25, a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, is charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter. Two conditions of his release on a $20,000 unsecured bond are that he remain on base and not drive.

A silver Nissan Pathfinder was traveling northbound on Reilly Road at about 3 p.m. Monday when it slammed into a gold Honda Accord that was stopped at the light at Fillyaw Road, police said. The impact caused the Honda to hit a motorcycle that was turning left onto Reilly Road.

The Pathfinder then went airborne and hit a Mercury Grand Marquis, bounced off and hit a burgundy Dodge minivan, police said.

Hyo Kwong Griffin, 48, of 7321 Avalon Drive in Fayetteville, and her 9-year-old son, Joshua, who were in the Accord, died at the scene, police said. The Griffins were on their way to pick up Joshua's basketball uniform at the time of the wreck, friends said.

The motorcyclist, Tom Parent, 48, a Fort Bragg soldier who lived at 966 Kennasaw Drive in Fayetteville, also died at the scene.

Police said speed and inattention were factors in the wreck, although they haven't said how fast the Pathfinder was going.

"All he could tell me was, 'I remember seeing the brown car. I said, 'Oh, my God,' and the next thing I knew, I was waking up after the wreck,'" said Jack Carter, Morgan's lawyer.

Morgan declined to comment after his court hearing Wednesday morning. But Carter said the soldier somehow became distracted, adding that he wasn't talking on a cell phone while driving and -- as far as he knows -- wasn't under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"Drugs and alcohol are not involved in this. There is no question of intoxication in this case at all," Carter said, adding that he's unsure whether Morgan had taken medication for anxiety before the crash.

Morgan and his wife moved to Fayetteville in August from Fort Lewis, Wash., and Carter said the wreck has shaken the soldier.

"One of the reasons he's not sitting in my office having a conversation with me is the fact that he seems to be in a funk, and it's difficult for him to talk about it," Carter said.

Police said they haven't determined if drugs or alcohol were involved in the wreck.

Morgan pleaded guilty in 2000 in Mecklenburg County to speeding and driving without a license, according to court records.