What to Know
- One cadet died and many others were hurt when the tactical vehicle they were in flipped over during a June training activity near West Point
- The dead cadet was identified as 22-year-old Christopher Morgan of West Orange, New Jersey
- On Wednesday, West Point said Staff Sgt. Ladonies Strong had been charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice
A U.S. Army sergeant has been charged in connection with the death of a 22-year-old cadet from New Jersey who was killed in a violent rollover crash near the U.S. Military Academy in West Point nearly three months ago.
In a statement Wednesday, the US Army said that Staff Sgt. Ladonies Strong was charged with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) in the June 6 crash that killed Christopher Morgan and hurt nearly two dozen others, including two U.S. Army soldiers.
Strong is assigned to TF 1-28 from Fort Benning, Georgia, where she is currently waiting a preliminary hearing pursuant to Article 32 of the UCMJ. That hearing is scheduled for mid-October. Authorities have not yet decided whether the charges would be referred to a court-martial; that decision won't be made until after the mid-October hearing, according to the statement from the US Army.
Strong is charged with involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, prevention of authorized seizure of property, reckless operation of a vehicle and derelection of duty in the crash. Details on her legal representation were not immediately available.
Morgan, a law and legal studies major and recruited athlete who was a standout member of the Army wrestling team, died at the scene of the June crash. He lived in West Orange and would have graduated from the U.S. Military Academy next year.
"Cadet Morgan was a valued member of the Corps of Cadets and will be missed by all," Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th Superintendent, U. S. Military Academy, said in a statement at the time. "The entire community is ensuring that our cadets are being cared for physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Morgan family."
West Point's wrestling coach described Morgan as a "talented, hardworking and determined athlete who loved his sport."
"Chris had an infectious personality with a smile big enough to fill any room, and a heart big enough to love everyone around him," coach Kevin Ward said. "He made everyone around him better and he will be greatly missed.
Morgan was among 19 cadets being driven by two U.S. Army soldiers when their 2.5-ton tactical vehicle somehow veered off Route 293 and rolled over, ending upside-down in a thickly wooded area, around 6:45 a.m. that June day. They were heading out as part of a routine training exercise, and officials weren't able to provide any additional details Thursday afternoon on how the accident may have happened. The investigation is ongoing.
The injured were taken to local hospitals; military personnel said injuries ranged from a facial abrasion to a broken arm, and all were expected to be OK.
Chopper 4 provided a first aerial view of the accident site, which was heavily obscured. The military vehicle was barely visible through the heavy tree cover, but it was clearly flipped, its undercarriage and wheels facing the sky.
The accident fell on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, as New York state honored about a hundred World War II veterans during a ceremony on Long Island.