SANTA ANA, California—Jared Ray Hale, a 25-year-old Marine, was charged with vehicular manslaughter Wednesday in the deaths of his three friends and fellow Marines.
Hale is charged with three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence, according to an Orange County District Attorney’s press release. Hale also faces sentencing enhancements for driving with a blood alcohol level over 0.15 percent.
Hale, who is currently in a medical rehabilitation facility, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted, Orange County District Attorneys’ officials said in a statement.
According to the statement, Hale and three fellow Marines—Christopher Arzola, 21; Jeremiah Callahan, 23; and Jason Chleborad, 22—arrived at Hennessey’s Tavern in Dana Point at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 13.
After leaving the bar at 1:50 a.m., Hale is accused of driving away in his Dodge sedan with his friends as passengers. About 10 minutes later, Hale is accused of losing control of the sedan at the intersection at Terra Vista. The vehicle ran over a landscaped median and crashed into a tree on the passenger’s side, said district attorney’s officials.
Callahan and Arzola suffered multiple blunt force injuries and were pronounced dead on the scene. Chleboard was taken to Mission Hospital, where according to officials, he was pronounced dead later that morning.
Hale was treated for brain trauma and a fractured arm at Mission Hospital. Just one hour after the crash, police tested Hale’s blood alcohol at 0.16 percent– twice the legal limit. Hale’s attorney told the Orange County Register that witnesses say Hale had not been drinking and that the crash was caused by the weather.
“My heart goes out to the victims’ families and the men who served alongside them in the Marines,” said Attorney West Seegmiller. “There is no excuse for drunk driving and those who drive their vehicles while under the influence are not only financially liable for injuries or deaths, but they also have to carry the guilt of what they have done.”
California Drunk Driving Statistics
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 791 people died because of drunk drivers out of a total of 2,715 people who were killed in traffic accidents in California in 2010.
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