The 25-year-old Marine accused of drunk driving and killing the three other passengers in his vehicle, all Marines, has been charged, authorities said on Wednesday.
The Marine, Jared Ray Hale, faces three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated without gross negligence, according to a press release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
He may also face possible charges for driving with a blood-alcohol level of more than 0.15 percent and additionally causing severe bodily injury. He is currently looking at a possible maximum sentence of ten years in state prison, according to state prosecutors.
Christopher Arzola, 21; Jeremiah Callahan, 23; and Jason Chleborad, 22 were all with Hale on the night of February 13, 2012 when they all went out to Hennessey’s Tavern in Dana Point at about 10:30 p.m.
According to other patrons at the bar, the foursome left at about 1:50 a.m. with Hale behind the wheel of his Dodge sedan and the other three men sitting with him in the vehicle.
Investigators believe that it was about 10 minutes after leaving the bar, while Hale was driving northbound on Golden Lantern, that he lost control of the sedan and crashed head-on into a tree.
The car spun around in the middle of the road, drove over a landscaped median, and smashed into a tree, severely damaging the passenger’s side of the car.
Both Callahan and Arzola died at the scene, according to emergency responders. Chleborad was transported to Mission Hospital, but he died from his injuries a short time later.
Hale was knocked unconscious in the crash and was later treated at Mission Hospital for brain trauma and a broken arm.
His blood-alcohol level was reportedly 0.16 percent about an hour and a half after the crash, which is twice the legal limit, according to prosecutors.
Hale’s attorney, Bill Paparian, disputed the reports that his client’s blood-alcohol level was so high at the time of the crash.
According to Paparian, Hale was the designated driver for the other three Marines, who were his subordinates on base. He also stated that witnesses at the bar, both military personnel and civilians, said that they had no seen Hale take a drink that entire night.
Paparian maintained that rainy weather had caused the crash.
“This was an accident that was caused by rain and hydroplaning,” Paparian said.
He also disputed the blood-alcohol content level that the authorities claimed Hale had at the time of the accident.
“There was no basis for them to withdraw blood pursuant to a criminal investigation at that point,” Paparian said. “He was unconscious and not under arrest.”
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