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Fort Bliss soldier killed when driver sped through red light, police say

A 21-year-old soldier died when his motorcycle collided with a speeding car that failed to stop at a red light in El Paso, Texas, according to local police.

The accident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, but the 1st Armored Division soldier was not publicly identified by Fort Bliss officials until Saturday.

Spc. Samuel D. Birmingham was riding a 2014 Kawasaki Ninja at the time of the crash. The other driver, 32-year-old Aaron Lopez, was driving a Subaru Impreza when, “at a high rate of speed,” he "entered the intersection on a red light and collided with” Birmingham, El Paso police said.

Birmingham was wearing his helmet and protective vest, police added. The collision caused the motorcycle to fracture into multiple pieces. Birmingham was ejected from his motorcycle and died at the scene. Lopez was injured and taken to a local hospital where he remains in stable condition.

“The investigation is on-going at this time and charges are expected to be filed against Lopez,” police said Oct. 1.

The collision occurred at the 7800 block of Gateway Blvd East, approaching the intersection of Giles Road. That location is roughly 10 miles from Fort Bliss, where Birmingham was stationed.

Birmingham served in the Army as a unit supply specialist assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team.

A native of Boron, California, Birmingham was remembered as a promising young soldier by his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Salvador Zuniga.

“Samuel was a treasured member of our team, a fast riser within the ranks and destined to be a leader within our Army," Zuniga said in a prepared statement. “Sam, was a young man full of life with many friends here in the Bandit Battalion.”

Birmingham’s awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Overseas Service Ribbon.

No official pictures accompanied Fort Bliss' announcement identifying Birmingham as a traffic fatality on Saturday.

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