LAURINBURG — Ten members of a Ft. Bragg honor guard were injured on Friday, five of them severely, when their van collided with a log truck north of Laurinburg.
According to Trooper John Martin of the N.C. Highway Patrol, the soldiers, all members of an 82nd Airborne honor guard that serves at military funerals, were headed for an assignment in Indian Trail near Charlotte. Their vehicle, a 2012 Chevrolet passenger van, was travelling southwest on Old Wire Road around 10 a.m. when the driver, Robert Horton, failed to yield the right of way at the intersection of U.S. 501.
A tractor-trailer carrying logs and travelling south on U.S. 501 collided with the right side of their van. When the van was hit, five of the soldiers were trapped inside for about 45 minutes as Scotland County rescue squads used multiple saws and “jaws of life” to extricate them.
Martin said that most of the soldiers were “young,” aged 22 to 25.
Two of the soldiers, Nathaniel Jemison and Joshua Furr, were airlifted from the accident scene to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, while the others were taken by ambulance to Scotland Memorial Hospital. William Schnidt, Christopher Somers and Richard King had undergone surgery at Scotland Memorial Hospital by 4 p.m. on Friday. As of Friday afternoon, those five soldiers were still considered to be in critical condition, Martin said.
Horton, Rahul Tangirala, William Myra, Joshua Provost, and Thomas Velazquez were treated at Scotland Memorial Hospital and released.
The log truck driver suffered minor injuries but declined medical treatment at the accident scene.
Horton was cited with failure to yield.