Three North Carolina Marines were found dead in a car with unconnected exhaust pipes, autopsies show

Dec 6, 2023, 12:27 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three Marines found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in a car outside a North Carolina gas station in July were in a vehicle with unconnected and rusted exhaust pipes, according to newly released autopsy findings.

The Pender County Sheriff’s Office had already said months ago that autopsies performed on Camp Lejeune lance corporals Tanner Kaltenberg, Merax Dockery and Ivan Garcia determined that they all had died from such poisoning, which can happen from car exhaust.

The new reports, which said there were no obvious signs of suicide, foul play or drug use, confirmed that cause of death.

But the reports from the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and obtained by news outlets provided additional information on the circumstances surrounding their deaths. The Marines were found dead the morning of July 23 at a convenience store parking lot in Hampstead in the southeastern part of the state. The reports suggested the 2000 Lexus sedan belonging to Garcia was equipped in an unsafe manner.

One of the autopsy reports said the car “had been modified in a way that caused multiple large defects in the exhaust system.” Another report describes that the car had been “lowered” and the exhaust pipes were rusted and not connected.

“It appeared that exhaust from the vehicle would have been released under the passenger cabin and not the rear bumper,” the report reads, adding that the car’s air conditioning also wasn’t working properly.

Car exhaust contains carbon monoxide that can make victims who inhale it pass out and ultimately die. A report said one of the Marines had a 23% concentration of carbon monoxide in the blood.

A Pender County sheriff’s spokesperson didn’t immediately respond Wednesday to a phone message seeking information.

Sheriff’s deputies found the young men about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Camp Lejeune, after the mother of one of the Marines reported her son missing.

The car’s windows were tinted and the doors were unlocked, and while the ignition was turned on the car was not running, news outlets reported. Surveillance video from the gas station shows the Marines parked the car and were never seen exiting the vehicle, the medical examiner’s office said.

Kaltenberg, of Madison, Wisconsin, was 19. Both Dockery, of Seminole, Oklahoma, and Garcia, of Naples, Florida, were 23.

United States News

Associated Press

Philadelphia police officer shot by fleeing suspect is in critical condition

A Philadelphia police officer was shot in the neck and was in critical condition Saturday night, officials said. The 31-year-old officer was in critical condition and undergoing surgery at Temple University Hospital, Police Commissioner Kevin Bethel said during a news conference outside the hospital. The officer, a veteran of more than six years on the […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

A fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store, police say

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Police say a fourth victim has died a day after a shooting at an Arkansas grocery store. The person died Saturday evening, Arkansas state police said in a statement. A total of 14 people were wounded in Friday’s shooting, according to police: “11 civilians, two law enforcement officers and the […]

6 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturda...

Associated Press

Trump endorses Ten Commandments in schools, implores evangelical Christians to vote in November

Trump endorsed displaying the Ten Commandments in schools while speaking to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians.

7 hours ago

Associated Press

2 people were taken to a hospital after lightning struck a tree near a PGA Tour event in Connecticut

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) — Two people were taken to the hospital Saturday after lightning struck a tree near a home along a golf course that is hosting the PGA Tour’s Travelers Championship. The home is just north of the fifth green at TPC River Highlands, which is hosting the tournament one week after the U.S. […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Jury awards more than $13 million to ultramarathon athlete injured in fall on a Seattle sidewalk

SEATTLE (AP) — A jury awarded $13.1 million to an ultramarathon athlete who was severely injured when she fell on a Seattle sidewalk in 2021. The award by a King County jury found that the city of Seattle and the owners of an apartment building are responsible for the amount, the Seattle Times reported. Lesley […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Rains, cooler weather help firefighters gain ground on large wildfires in southern New Mexico

RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee. Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to […]

13 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Three North Carolina Marines were found dead in a car with unconnected exhaust pipes, autopsies show