Local News

Buses carrying Marines crash

Posted March 5, 2009 9:22 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT

— Three buses carrying Marines crashed in eastern North Carolina Thursday morning, injuring 14 people, authorities said.

The civilian charter buses crashed at about 7:55 a.m. on U.S. Highway 17 outside Maysville in Jones County, authorities said. Maysville is about halfway between New Bern and Jacksonville.

Two of the buses slowed and stopped for traffic as another vehicle was making a left turn off U.S. 17, and the third bus rear-ended the second one, said Capt. Everett Clendenin of the state Highway Patrol. The chain-reaction wreck also involved two SUVs, he said.

One of the bus drivers was critically injured and taken to Craven Regional Hospital in New Bern for treatment.

Fifty-nine Marines and one sailor from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Lejeune were on board the buses, headed to Norfolk, Va., for certification exercises, Camp Lejeune spokesman Capt. Clark Carpenter said. The exercises are their final training before they deploy with the Bataan Strike Group this spring, he said.

Thirteen Marines were taken to the naval hospital at Camp Lejeune for treatment of "routine" injuries, Carpenter said. All but two were treated and released by Thursday afternoon.

One Marine was listed as stable at the naval hospital, and one Marine was transferred to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, where he was listed as stable.

The Marines who weren't hurt in the wreck boarded other buses to continue on to Norfolk, he said.

U.S. 17 was closed for more than five hours while authorities cleared the wreckage and investigated the accident, Clendenin said.  The highway reopened shortly after 1 p.m.

Troopers charged the driver of the third bus driver, John Tipton, with failure to reduce speed, Clendenin said.

Tipton was driving for Kedt Inc./Altogether Tours, based in Enfield.