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Marine families demand justice after cop kills Marines in car crash

Camp Pendleton.(UT File Photo/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
October 03, 2023

Two U.S. Marine families are continuing to pursue justice for the deaths of their children, who were killed almost a year ago by an off-duty sheriff’s deputy in a vehicle accident.

According to The Los Angeles Times, the tragic incident occurred at 3:48 a.m. on November 5, 2022, when a devastating collision on the 5 Freeway in Orange County resulted in the death of Lance Cpl. James Patton and Lance Cpl. Samantha Berrios, who were stranded in their damaged vehicle after a mishap on their return to Camp Pendleton from a hip-hop concert in Los Angeles during a celebration of Patton’s 20th birthday.

The collision was caused by Michael Miscione, an off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, who had fallen asleep at the wheel of his Chevrolet truck after his 3 a.m. shift. The impact was catastrophic, with Miscione’s vehicle reportedly traveling at 90 mph in a construction zone.

Following the incident, the deputy told a Highway Patrol sergeant, “I fell asleep, I fell asleep.” Miscione explained that the last thing he remembered before falling asleep at the wheel was driving onto the freeway from State Route 91.

The California Highway Patrol recommended that the deputy face criminal charges.

Kimberly Edds, the spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney’s office, noted the gravity of the situation, stating, “The loss of any life is a tragedy not only for the victims’ family but for the entire community that loved them.” She told the Los Angeles Times that a seasoned homicide prosecutor is diligently examining the case.

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Michael Patton, still grieving the loss of his son, is determined to see the responsible party held accountable in the name of justice. “We are hoping to see that the district attorney does prosecute and that he does end up doing some time,” Patton told The Los Angeles Times. “The police are not above the law.”

For the grieving parents, the wait for justice after the death of their children has been agonizingly slow. While Nancy Berrios, Samantha Berrios’s mother, acknowledged that she does not believe the deputy’s actions were intentional, she explained that actions have consequences.

“It was a mistake — and there are consequences for a mistake,” she said. “In my heart, I know he didn’t mean to. But these are our children.”

According to The Los Angeles Times, Both Marines had promising futures ahead. Berrios, described as a determined and motivated young woman, joined the Marines in 2021 with aspirations of becoming a recruiter. James, on the other hand, came from a lineage of Army and Navy veterans and had been advancing in the Marine Corps.

Both of the Marine families are now seeking legal redress, having filed a lawsuit against Deputy Miscione, Los Angeles County, and others involved in the incident, according to The Los Angeles Times.

This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.