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Marine indicted in traffic accident

Date Posted: 1998-10-30

Update: Ms. Uema was pronounced dead Thursday, Oct. 15.

A Marine was been indicted by the Naha prosecutor's office Tuesday as a result of a traffic accident which occurred on Oct. 7 that left a local student, Ms. Yuki Uema, in critical condition.

The Marine has been charged with causing injury through professional negligence, driving under the influence of alcohol, and hit and run.

In full compliance with the Status of Forces Agreement between the United States and Japan, Cpl. Randall M. Eskridge, 23, a flight equipment technician with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadrom (VMGR) 152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, was transferred to custody of Japanese authorities around 4:25 p.m. today.

This past Friday, Lt. Gen. Libutti, Commanding General, III Marine Expeditionary Force and Commander Marine Corps Bases, Japan, said, "I, on behalf of all Marines and their families living on Okinawa, would like to tell the family and friends of Yuki Uema that our prayers and thoughts are with them during this most difficult time."

Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti visited the Uema family at the Chubu Tokushukia hospital to personally express his sympathy.

Military officials have been working closely with the Japanese authorities since the incident occurred. From reporting the accident, apprehending Eskridge and seizing his vehicle as he tried to enter a military installation, Marine Corps cooperation and working relationships with Japanese authorities has allowed both governments to share much information about this case.

Within hours after the accident on Oct. 7, the Marine Corps provided Eskridge for questioning to Japanese authorities. The Marine Corps escorted Eskridge to the Okinawa City Police Department for subsequent questioning Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, as well as on the day of arrest.

The day of the accident, Marines visited with Ms. Uema's family at the hospital and arranged for military neurosurgeons to visit the hospital for consultations with her attending physicians.

Oct. 8, Brig. Gen. Jerry D. Humble, Commanding General 3d Marine Division, on behalf of all Marines on Okinawa, visited with the victim's family, school and local mayor to express sincere regret and to offer his respects during this trying period.

Consul General Robert S. Luke and Lt. Col. Anthony Pais, commanding officer, VMGR-152, have also made visits to the Uema family. Eskridge has also expressed his wishes to convey his sympathy and concert to the Uema family.

On Oct. 9, Lt. Gen. Libutti directed commanders on Okinawa to bring their Marines together for a "reflection period" to pray for Ms. Uema and her family. Additionally, Lt. Gen. Libutti tasked Marines to reflect on and reinforce the core values of honor, courage, and commitment and the profound obligation to be good neighbors.

Throughout this week, Marine commanders on Okinawa will spend one half day with their Marines reflecting upon personal responsibility and accountability. This effort is being taken to continue to focus on the high standards of conduct the Marine Corps expects of its members and on the personal responsibility each Marine has as a representative of the United States.

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