Army Soldier Charged in Traffic Accident Death of West Point Cadet

The New York Times Politics 1 month ago

WASHINGTON — The soldier at the wheel of a truck that overturned in June, killing a West Point cadet and injuring 21 others on the way to a training exercise, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, reckless driving and dereliction of duty, the Army said on Tuesday.

The soldier, Staff Sgt. Ladonies P. Strong, faces a preliminary hearing in mid-October to determine whether her case will be referred to a court-martial trial, according to Lt. Col. Patrick Husted, a spokesman for the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., the sergeant’s parent command.

The cadet who was killed, Christopher J. Morgan, died at the scene of the accident. Two trainers and 19 other cadets were injured.

Mr. Morgan, 22, who was expected to graduate next year, was a member of the academy’s wrestling team and was recruited after a standout wrestling career at his high school in West Orange, N.J., his hometown.

The truck, known as a light medium tactical vehicle, was transporting the cadets on June 6 to a training area about eight miles from West Point’s main campus in upstate New York when it overturned at 6:45 a.m., a West Point spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, said at the time.

The five-ton truck driven by Sergeant Strong overturned near Camp Natural Bridge, a summer training site of mountainous terrain. The cadets were in the middle of the annual summer program for rising seniors, which generally includes training in military field exercises.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, Colonel Husted said in an email on Tuesday.

The accident was one of several fatal rollovers during military training exercises in recent months, prompting lawmakers in Washington to demand that the Pentagon investigate the causes.

On May 16, Army Staff Sgt. Jacob Hess, 34, died from injuries after a Humvee rolled over at a military training center in Louisiana.

A week earlier, First Lt. Hugh C. McDowell, 24, a Marine platoon commander, was killed when a light-armored vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Camp Pendleton in California.

It was the second deadly rollover at Camp Pendleton in a month. In April, Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, 29, also died after a vehicle rolled over there.

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