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Speed, alcohol were factors in crash that killed 3 Marines

February 15, 2012 |  5:37 pm

Marines crash1

Alcohol and unsafe speed were the main contributors to an early morning crash that left three Marines dead and a fourth in critical condition, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced Wednesday.

The crash occurred at 2:05 a.m. Tuesday, when a Dodge Stratus struck a tree in the center divider of Golden Lantern in Dana Point.  Jim Amormino, a spokesman with the Sheriff’s Department, said the driver was under the influence of alcohol and driving over the posted speed limit of 40 mph. 

"The car was almost wrapped around the tree," Amormino said. The men had to be cut out of their seatbelts.

"We don’t have an exact speed yet," he said. "We do know it was over the speed limit and certainly unsafe for the conditions."

All four Marines were stationed at Camp Pendleton. Two passengers were killed instantly and a third died later at Mission Hospital. The driver remains in critical condition.

Amormino did not say whether the passengers also were under the influence of alcohol. Toxicology results are expected in several weeks. 

The names of the dead Marines have been withheld pending notification of family members.

The Dana Point crash was the second fatal traffic accident in Southern California involving enlisted Marines this week. 

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--Nicole Santa Cruz
twitter.com/nicolesantacruz

Photo: A memorial marks the spot where a vehicle carrying four Marines from Camp Pendleton struck a tree. Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times