No cause of death has been released after the horrific discovery of three deceased U.S. Marines in a car parked at a gas station on Sunday in Hampstead, North Carolina.
Police looking into a missing person report discovered the parked Lexus at a Pender County Speedway convenience store at about 9 a.m. The investigation determined the young men were Marines stationed at the Camp Lejeune base, which is approximately 30 miles away.
The sheriff’s office put out word that there did not appear to be a threat to the community.
The three Marine lance corporals were identified as 23-year-old Merax Dockery of Oklahoma, 23-year-old Ivan Garcia of Florida, and 19-year-old Tanner Kaltenberg of Wisconsin. All were pronounced dead at the scene.
Sgt. Chester Ward of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office said it appeared they succumbed to an accidental death. “There’s nothing to believe it to be foul play or anything. We are waiting for an autopsy report, but we have an idea of what probably happened.”
He added that the cause of death “might be something that we don’t see.” Investigators did not find illegal drugs, weapons, or signs of an attack at the vehicle.
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All of the Marines were posted at Camp Lejeune and assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 2.
Brig. Gen. Michael E. McWilliams, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, expressed his “deepest sympathy and condolences” to the family, friends and military colleagues of the three.
He told local media that “our focus is providing the necessary resources and support to those impacted by their tragic loss as they navigate this extremely difficult time.”
Garcia had been in the Marine Corps the longest, joining the branch in July 2019 according to officials. Dockery went on active duty in June 2020 and Kaltenberg in May 2021.
All three were recipients of the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terror Service Medal.
According to its website, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is the home base of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Logistics Group and others. It is on the North Carolina coast.