3 found dead in car at North Carolina gas station are identified as Marines stationed nearby

By HANNAH SCHOENBAUM Associated Press/Report for America

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Three men who were found dead over the weekend at a North Carolina gas station have been identified as Marine lance corporals stationed at nearby Camp Lejeune, the U.S. Marine Corps said Tuesday.

Deputies from the Pender County Sheriff’s Office found the three men unresponsive Sunday morning in a privately owned car at a Speedway gas station in Hampstead, 29 miles (47 kilometers) southwest of the base, the department said in a statement. Medical authorities pronounced all three dead the same day, and their cause of death has not been released.

Sgt. Chester Ward of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office said the department had received a missing person report for one of the three Marines, but he declined to share details. No drugs were found in the vehicle, he said.

“We do not suspect anything as far as foul play in that matter,” Ward told The Associated Press, noting that the sheriff’s office is waiting on autopsy results because the cause of death “might be something that we don’t see.”

The U.S. Marine Corps identified the men as Tanner J. Kaltenberg, 19, of Madison, Wisconsin; Merax C. Dockery, 23, of Pottawatomie, Oklahoma; and Ivan R. Garcia, 23, of Naples, Florida. The men were motor vehicle operators with the Combat Logistics Battalion 2, Combat Logistics Regiment 2 and 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune, said First Lt. Raymond Fullbright, of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group.

“My deepest sympathy and condolences are extended to the family, friends, and colleagues of Lance Cpl. Kaltenberg, Lance Cpl. Dockery and Lance Cpl. Garcia,” said Brig. Gen. Michael McWilliams, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “Our focus is providing the necessary resources and support to those impacted by their tragic loss as they navigate this extremely difficult time.”

Their cause of death could be determined as soon as Wednesday, Ward said.


Hannah Schoenbaum is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.