U.S. Marine in Japan arrested for drunk driving after deadly crash

By Ray Downs  |  Nov. 19, 2017 at 9:35 PM
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Nov. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. Marine was allegedly drunk Sunday while driving a military vehicle and killed a Japanese motorist, authorities said.

Okinawa police identified the Marine as 21-year-old Nicholas James-McLean. According to the Tokyo Reporter, James McLean was driving a 2-ton military truck at 5:30 a.m. Sunday in Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture, when he struck a smaller truck and killed its driver, 61-year-old Hidemasa Taira.

Eyewitnesses told police Taira's truck was making a right-turn at an intersection with its turn signal on when James-McLean's truck ran a red light and crashed into it.

James-McLean's blood alcohol level was reportedly three times over the Japanese legal limit, which is lower than other countries, including the United States.

Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that James-McLean was arrested for drunk driving and U.S. Forces Japan confirmed he was in police custody.

"I would like to convey my deepest regret and sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Okinawan man who died as a result of this accident," Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, commanding general of Marine Forces Japan, said in a statement.

After the arrest Sunday, U.S. Forces Japan imposed an alcohol ban for all service members in the country until further notice.

In 2016, the U.S. Navy banned sailors from drinking in Okinawa, both on and off base, after Petty Officer 2nd Class Aimee Mejia was charged with drunk driving after driving the wrong way on a freeway and crashing head-on into two cars, causing two serious injuries.

Mejia was later found guilty but did not serve any jail time.

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