Update: Police are still working to solve how three Marines died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a vehicle parked outside of a North Carolina convenience store.
The Pender County Sheriff’s Department told Military.com the carbon monoxide “likely” came from some malfunction in the Lexus where the Marines were found, but that could not prove it.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service partnered with the sheriff’s department in the investigation but referred all questions to the department, which is leading the investigation.
“I can’t say if any modifications caused the carbon monoxide leak. However, it is most likely the vehicle had a malfunction somewhere for it to leak,” Sgt. Chester Ward, a spokesperson for the Pender County Sherriff’s office said in an email to Military.com.
Police have not been able to determine how the three Marines were killed beyond saying they were exposed to the odorless gas they suspect came from damage to Ivan Garcia’s 2000 Lexus LS 400.
“The car did sit low to the ground,” a Marine spokesperson said. “So if there’s extensive damage to the exhaust that’s most likely what it was….apparently mechanics said that the amount of damage it had doesn’t happen in a one-time instance. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Zach Mentz, cleveland.com (TNS)
July 27 -HAMPSTEAD, N.C. – Three Marines who were found dead in a vehicle parked outside of a North Carolina convenience store on Sunday died from carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.
On Wednesday, the North Carolina Office of the Medical Examiner performed autopsies on the three Marines and determined the deaths were “consistent due to carbon monoxide poisoning,” according to a news release from the Pender County Sheriff.
The three Marines were identified as Lance Corporal Tanner J. Kaltenberg, 19, of Madison, Wisconsin; Lance Corporal Merax C. Dockery, 23, of Pottawatomie, Oklahoma; and Lance Corporal Ivan R. Garcia, 23, of Naples, Florida.
“I am saddened by the timeless and tragic death of these three young men, who served our country honorably,” Pender County Sheriff Alan W. Cutler said in the release. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with their families and colleagues during this time.”
On Sunday, officials were alerted by a caller who said her son was a U.S. Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and that he did not arrive on a flight to Oklahoma one day earlier. The caller said she had spoken with a supervisor in her son’s unit and that someone was traveling to the location to locate the missing person.
Deputies were already working on a separate missing person report at the time of this call, according to the release.
The missing person was located Sunday morning along with two other Marines, all of whom were found deceased inside a vehicle parked at a Speedway convenience store in Hampstead, North Carolina.
Their families were notified by U.S. Marine Corps officials, according to the release.
“Our focus is providing the necessary resources and support to those impacted by their tragic loss as they navigate this extremely difficult time,” said Brig. Gen. Michael E. McWilliams, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, according to CNN.
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