Order prohibits use of Catfish Lake RoadAn unpaved road frequented by eastern North Carolina Marines is now effectively prohibited for use by military personnel, according to a new order.
Lance Cpl. Cory D. Polom, MCAS Cherry Point
The II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations East joint order, 5100.3, was signed into policy, March 19. The order is punitive in nature, and service members found in violation are punishable under Article 92 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
According to the order, use of Catfish Lake Road, located between U.S. Highway 70 in Craven County and North Carolina Highway 58 in Jones County, has been limited in an effort to reduce the potential for vehicle-related fatalities, injuries and property damage.
Under the limited-use policy, traversing the road is in violation of the order unless the service member has a legitimate purpose to be on the roads unpaved surface, such as hunting or fishing in the forest in the area.
The new order is applicable to all active duty service members attached to MCI-East and II MEF, whether they are on duty, leave or liberty.
You could be the greatest driver in the world, but it just takes one second and you could lose your life, said Cpl. Darien J. Garland, a Cherry Point weather forecaster, who suffered injuries in an accident that took place in January on Catfish Lake Road.
Potholes and the loose gravel only add to accident liability, said Cpl. Patrick N. Osborne, a Cherry Point accident investigator. When you add those two factors with the speed factor and peoples complacency, the end result could be serious injury or death.
Since November 2009, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard Cherry Point has had two accidents due to poor driving on these back roads, said Lt. Col. Michael J. Murphy, director of safety and standardization for the air station.
Murphy said H&HS has lost one Marine and had another injured along with his civilian passenger. In both instances, driving too fast for the conditions on dirt roads was a contributing factor.
The risk of vehicle mishaps along Catfish Lake Road are significantly higher because of the curves, blind spots, lack of posted speed limits and absence of roadway lighting at night, according to the new order.
First off, if at all possible, avoid back roads, said Murphy. If you do go down these roads, drive slow and stay alert. Even when the weather has been dry and the roads are clear, you can get into accidents. Drivers that pass you kick up dust or drive too close and can push you into the loose shoulder.
The death of a Marine is not just a tragedy for families, said Lt. Col. Glenn C. Vogel, commanding officer of H&HS. To his co-workers, its a loss of a comrade we can relate to. It is a tremendous loss for the section, platoon, unit and the Marine Corps. Its unnecessary and almost always avoidable. It is hard to comprehend when a young Marine or Sailor dies, in the prime of his life, because of an accident.