The tactical vehicle crash that killed a 7th Infantry Division soldier in the Yakima Training Area at Joint Base Lewis-McChord last week was a rollover, according to a preliminary investigation by the Army Combat Readiness Center.
Many of the details on the April 25 crash — including its suspected causes — have not yet been released and will not become public until after a safety investigation and parallel command investigation conclude.
The accident, which killed Pfc. Joseph A. Marquez and injured two other soldiers, happened just after 6 a.m. when a four-vehicle convoy from 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry, was moving down a steep hill in the training area. The unit was in the final portion of a squadron field exercise, and the convoy was moving supplies, said division spokesperson Lt. Col. Travis Dettmer in a phone interview.
Marquez’s truck, which Dettmer said was a five-ton configured Medium Tactical Vehicle, hit a soft shoulder after slowing down and rolled several times down the hill, according to the preliminary report.
It’s not clear whether speed played a role in the incident, nor is it known whether the pre-dawn convoy was driving under blackout conditions or using night-vision goggles, which can hamper a driver’s depth perception. Dettmer indicated that the investigation will consider all potential causal factors for the crash.
Yakima Training Area emergency officials and a MedEvac crew from the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade responded shortly after the accident, said Dettmer and the report. Marquez was pronounced dead on the scene, and the injured soldiers were flown to Yakima Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released.
The two soldiers who were injured have not been named for privacy reasons.
‘Known for his laughter’
The junior soldier’s unit memorialized him as “a loving son and brother...a faithful friend...and a loyal Soldier” in a Facebook post made the day after his death.
Marquez, who hailed from Dover, Delaware, joined the Army in 2021, according to Dettmer.
His sister told Delaware NBC affiliate WRDE that Joey, as his family and friends knew him, was living the “American Dream.”
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Pfc. Marquez,” said Lt. Col. Michael Filanowski, his squadron commander, in an April 26 release. “Blackhawk Squadron sends its deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts are with them during this difficult time.”
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army. He focuses on investigations, personnel concerns and military justice. Davis, also a Guard veteran, was a finalist in the 2023 Livingston Awards for his work with The Texas Tribune investigating the National Guard's border missions. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill.