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Marine driver acquitted in 7-ton rollover that killed 2, injured 17 near Camp Lejeune

Military Bases

A military jury acquitted a Marine in the January 2022 fatal rollover of a 7-ton truck at the intersection of Highway 210 and U.S. 17, near Camp Lejeune.

In a court martial that concluded last week, Marine Corps Times is reporting the Lance Cpl. Luis Ponce-Barrera was found not guilty on all counts.

Witnesses testified that Ponce-Barrera had never driven a 7-ton with a mounted turret until that day, and he didn’t receive rollover training until a month after the crash.

According to testimony, Ponce-Barrera didn’t even have a driver’s license when he arrived at Camp Lejeune, only a learner’s permit.

All the passengers in the back of the vehicle were ejected. Pfc. Zachary Riffle and Lance Cpl. Jonathan Gierke were killed and 17 other Marines were injured.

Annette is originally a Midwest gal, born and raised in Michigan, but with career stops in many surrounding states, the Pacific Northwest, and various parts of the southeast. She has been involved in the media industry in eastern North Carolina for more than three years. An award-winning journalist and mother of four, Annette moved to ENC to be closer to family – in particular, her two young grandchildren. It’s possible that a -27 day with a -68 windchill in Minnesota may have also played a role in that decision. In her spare time, Annette does a lot of toddler and baby cuddling, reading, designing costumes for children’s theater and producing the coolest Halloween costumes anyone has ever seen. She has also worked as a diversity and inclusion facilitator serving school districts and large corporations. It’s the people that make this beautiful area special, and she wants to share those stories that touch the hearts of others. If you have a story idea to share, please reach out by email to