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News / Northwest

Soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord killed by wrong-way drunk driver, authorities say

By Associated Press
Published: June 3, 2024, 5:01pm

TACOMA — Two soldiers stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state were killed when their vehicle was hit by an alleged drunken driver going the wrong way on an area highway, according to the Army.

Spc. Charles T. Fairbairn, 29, and Spc. Wendell T. Cerio, 22, died in the crash early Sunday morning, the Washington State Patrol said. A third soldier in the car was taken to a hospital with injuries and has since been released.

JBLM spokesperson Matt Pargett told The Seattle Times in an email that Fairbairn was an infantryman and Cerio was a combat medic.

“We are saddened to learn that two 7th Infantry Division soldiers passed following an off-post vehicle accident,” Pargett wrote in a statement.

He said the crash remains under investigation.

Fairbairn was driving west on Highway 12 near the military base south of Tacoma in a Chrysler 300 when a wrong-way driver in a Ford Edge SUV struck the sedan. The 23-year-old SUV driver and a 19-year-old passenger were taken to a hospital with injuries. A baby in the car was not injured.

The SUV driver was arrested on two counts of DUI vehicular homicide, Washington State Patrol Trooper John Dattilo posted on the social media platform X.