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3 Marines found dead in vehicle in North Carolina died from carbon monoxide poisoning: Sheriff

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

(WILMINGTON, N.C.) — The three Marines who were found dead inside a vehicle in North Carolina died from carbon monoxide poisoning, the Pender County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.


Autopsies were performed Wednesday and the medical examiner determined that all three deaths are consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning, authorities said.

The Marine Corps has identified the three Marines who were found dead inside a vehicle in North Carolina over the weekend.

Camp Lejeune identified the men as Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Merax C. Dockery, 23, from Pottawatomie, Oklahoma, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ivan R. Garcia, 23, from Naples, Florida, and Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tanner J. Kaltenberg, 19, from Madison, Wisconsin.

The Pender County Sheriff’s Office received a call on Sunday morning from Dockery’s mother, who said her son was stationed at Camp Lejeune and did not arrive on his flight in Oklahoma the night before, officials said in a press release.

His mother told a 911 dispatcher that she spoke to a supervisor in Dockery’s unit and that a sergeant was on their way to the location where Dockery’s phone was possibly located.

The Pender County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to a call at 9 a.m. on Sunday to look into a report of a missing person.

During their investigation authorities discovered the bodies of the three men inside a car at a Speedway convenience store in Hampstead, North Carolina, Pender County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release on Tuesday.

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

Garcia entered active duty in July 2019, Dockery in June 2020 and Kaltenberg in May 2021, according to the Marine Corps.

“I am saddened by the timeless and tragic death of these three young men, who served our country honorably,” Pender County Sheriff Alan W. Cutler said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with their families and colleagues during this time.”

The Pender County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident and did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for additional information.

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,” Sgt. Chester Ward of the Pender County Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press.

ABC News’ Alexandra Faul contributed to this report.

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