Army sergeant charged in deadly West Point accident

West Point accident rare, not unprecedented

West Point, New York—A staff sergeant was charged in a deadly rollover accident that killed a cadet during training exercises this summer at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Army officials confirmed Thursday. Staff Sergeant Ladonies P. Strong was charged on September 13 with multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide and reckless operation of a vehicle.

The sergeant, who is assigned to Fort Benning in Georgia, also was charged with prevention of authorized seizure of property and two specifications of dereliction of duty, according to a release from the Army. Fort Benning did not immediately return CBS News’ request for comment.

Twenty-year-old cadet Christopher J. Morgan of West Orange, New Jersey, died on June 6 in a rollover crash after a tactical vehicle carrying cadets overturned in wooded terrain at West Point. The crash that left 19 other cadets and two soldiers injured, officials said. The injuries ranged from facial abrasions to a broken arm and were considered non-life-threatening.

West Point Cadet Christopher Morgan of West Orange, N.J. was killed Thursday, June 6, 2019, when a military vehicle rolled over. U.S. Military Academy

Army soldiers were driving the vehicle during the crash near the Camp Natural Bridge training site, which is used by cadets during the summer. The accident happened while they were traveling to a training site during a standard exercise, Army Lt. General Darryl Williams said in a brief news conference on June 6.

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When asked on June 6 if there were too many cadets in the back of the military vehicle, Williams said, “I do not have those concerns.” Williams said he did not have details of how the crash unfolded. First responders were on the scene and providing medical care after the accident occurred at around 6:45 a.m. that day.

The accident remains under investigation and Staff Sergeant Strong is awaiting a preliminary hearing next month at Fort Benning. A decision on whether to refer the charges to a court-martial will be made after the hearing. Army officials did not provide information on whether she had a lawyer.

Morgan was a law and legal studies major in the Class of 2020. He was a recruited athlete and a standout member of the Army wrestling team.

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