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Florida wreck kills two 3rd ID soldiers
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FORT PIERCE, Fla. — Two soldiers making a surprise visit to their families in Florida before deployment to Iraq were struck by a car and killed after getting into a fight.
Joshua Thomas Baker and Jonathan Wendell Peterson were on their way to Fort Myers, Fla., Saturday evening from Fort Stewart, when they got into an argument that escalated into a fist fight, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Tim Frith said. Peterson stopped on the grassy median of a dark road in southeast Florida, and the men continued fighting in the roadway, Frith said.
The nature of the argument isn’t known, but Frith said alcohol may have played a role.
“We think that one of the subjects may have been, certainly had, consumed alcohol,” Frith said. “To what level, that’s what we’re waiting to determine.”
He declined to say which of the men may have been drinking.
The driver of one oncoming car managed to avoid hitting the men, but a car behind did not have time to react, Frith said. Baker died at the scene. Peterson was taken to an area hospital, where he died. Two passengers in the men’s car were uninjured.
No charges have been filed, but the investigation is ongoing.
Baker’s family said the men had been friends for years and were going to be deployed to Iraq this week with the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment. Baker joined the military a year ago and was looking forward to serving in Iraq.
“He just wanted to go for his country and make a difference there,” Baker’s grandmother, Sandy Coggins, told The Associated Press on Monday.
His grandfather, Chuck Coggins, said it was just like his grandson to come and make a surprise visit to see his family before being deployed to Iraq.
“He just loved to surprise people,” Chuck Coggins said. “He was just a bundle of joy.”
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