State troopers are trying to make sense of what led up to a car crash that killed two Camp Lejeune Marines in the Croatan National Forest.
Their car flipped over into a watery ditch after slipping on a gravelly road. An officer with the U.S. Forest Service, Steve Barrette, made the discovery of the upside down car partially submerged in the water on Catfish Lake Road at 10:25 PM off the eastbound shoulder.
"It tears me up to see that, knowing somebody turned upside down here and couldn't get out of the car," said Charles Farrell, who lives in Jones County and came to see the accident site.
Troopers say 19-year-old Skyler D. Way of Gouverneur, NY was driving too fast when he ran off of the road and flipped the car. His passenger, 19-year-old, Nicholas S. Buscarnera of Mastic Beach, NY, also died at the scene.
Both were assigned to Camp Lejeune's 2nd Supply Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
Troopers say the vehicle appeared to have been submerged in the ditch for some time before anyone found it. Barrette told officers he had run up on some Marines on Catfish Lake Road looking for their friends. They stated last known contact was a phone call on Monday, January 6th at approximately 9:47 PM.
"This is a dangerous road," said Farrell, who says his brother-in-law died three years ago on Catfish Lake Road when he passed out at the wheel and slammed into a pine tree.
He says the slippery gravel makes driving treacherous at high speeds.
"I think they ought to go ahead and pave it. How many lives got to be took on this road before they ever do anything?" he said.
But folks who live on Catfish Lake Road, like Karen Hacker, say it's not the road that's dangerous, but the way people drive on it.
"Sometimes when you come around a corner, if you're even driving on the straight way, you hit a washboard and no matter what you do, you can't control your vehicle, especially if you put the brakes on. That makes it even worse," said Hacker.
It's unclear what the Marines were doing in the forest, but troopers say they were headed toward Craven County from Jones County.
A sign outside the forest restricts military thru-traffic.
"We're always losing Marines on this road," said Hacker.
While bits and pieces of the wreck still lay at the scene, including a shoe, a knife, and a floor mat, investigators try to figure out how it happened.
9 On Your Side spoke to the parents of Nick Buscarnera in Long Island, New York. They said they are doing as well as can be expected, but did not comment further.
The service members were transported to CarolinaEast Medical Center Morgue in New Bern.
Whether alcohol is a factor in the crash is unknown in this time.
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