Investigation: No Violations In Jacksonville Bridge Crash That Killed Marine Corps Captain

By: Ben Tyson
By: Ben Tyson
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Jacksonville police have completed the investigation into the death of a Camp Lejeune Marine Captain from Richlands who drove off the Sewell Bridge and died in February.

The department released a statement saying, "The investigation determined there are no moving or criminal violations in this crash."

The medical examiner report from the Chapel Hill office concludes 31-year-old Rafael Rivera died at the hospital and the probable cause of death was a skull fracture.

On February 1st, Rivera died after driving his Jeep off the bridge and into the New River.

At the time of the accident, some wondered if more could have been done because there was snow built up along the concrete barrier the jeep drove over, and some wonder if that, or ice, could have contributed to the fatal accident.

The DOT says the snow was cleared the way the state requires, 5 feet past the white line.


A Marine Captain's death has left many asking if more could have been done to make the Sewell Bridge safer after inclement weather.

Jacksonville Police are still investigating why a jeep ran off the bridge over the weekend.

The incident killed the driver, 31-year-old Captain Rafael Rentas of Richlands. Rentas' jeep was discovered just before noon Saturday.

Someone reported it in the New River on its side. The eastbound side of the bridge was shut down that afternoon as the jeep and body were pulled from the water.

Police say they're still investigating the cause of the accident, but many are wondering if more could have been done.

There was snow built up along the concrete barrier the jeep drove over, and some wonder if that, or ice, could have contributed to the fatal accident.

Warren Wethington with the Onslow County Department of Transportation says his crews were keeping a close eye on that bridge since snow fell Tuesday night.

Wethington says the DOT was still treating icy spots Friday night and Saturday morning.

The DOT says the snow was cleared the way the state requires, 5 feet past the white line. We're told crews were also checking for ice the morning of the fatal wreck.

Wethington says, "1 a.m. prior to the accident, it was raining and there were no icy conditions at all on the bridge. There was a house fire in Bear Creek. We had a crew respond to and on the way back. A crew checked the bridge somewhere around 2 a.m. and there were no issues at that time."

Camp Lejeune says Rivera was from Scarsdale, New York, and served as a Logistics Officer in charge of the Advanced Ground Training Operations section.

We're told he also served as a Class Advisor and Instructor for a Logistics course at Camp Johnson. Rivera enlisted in 2000 and served in both Iraq and Aghanistan.
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A Marine Corps captain has been identified as the man who died after his jeep went off a high-rise bridge and into the New River.

Jacksonville police say Captain Rafael Rivera of Richlands died Saturday after his black 2002 Jeep ran off of Highway 17 and landed in the New River.

The road was reduced to a single lane for several hours and eventually closed down completely for around 30 minutes so that the SUV could be extracted from the river.

Camp Lejeune says Rivera, 31, of Scarsdale, New York, was a logistics officer, and served as an instructor at Camp Johnson.

Rivera enlisted in the Marines in 2000, and became an officer in 2006. He was twice deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The crash is still under investigation.


Jacksonville Police confirm that one person is dead after a vehicle crashed off a bridge Saturday.

Spokeswoman Beth Purcell says that a body has been recovered from the New River after a vehicle crashed off the Sewell Bridge.

We're told the incident is under investigation and that they are working to identify the victim and notify next of kin.

Officials say that the bypass has opened back up.

The Marine Corps says that it is assisting in the investigation.


A vehicle crashed off of the Sewell Bridge and into the New River Saturday, according to Jacksonville Police. Jacksonville Police, Fire and Emergency Services are responding along with first resonders from Onslow County and Camp Lejeune.

Traffic travelling east on Highway 24 has been reduced to one lane so that first responders can work to recover the vehicle and its occupant from the river.

According to Jacksonville police, motorists are to expect delays on Highway 24 eastbound and are asked to find alternate routes.

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