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U.S. 460 crash claims the life of Marine who served in Iraq
Stephen Morris, who died Thursday, was the older brother of a teen who was killed in a 2004 accident.
Friday, March 8, 2013
A man who died in a crash Thursday night in Botetourt County was a Marine who had battled hardship at home and abroad.
Stephen Andrew Morris, 30, of Buchanan, died on U.S. 460 on Thursday night, according to Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Rob Carpentieri.
Morris was driving a 1993 Ford Explorer the wrong way in the eastbound lanes near Laymantown Road when he struck a 2009 GMC Sierra pickup truck.
Carpentieri said Morris, who wasn't wearing his seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. The man driving the GMC was not identified but was taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
According to Deana Falls, his aunt, Morris had recently returned to the area after completing his time as a Marine reservist.
"He survived that," she said. "He was way too young for this to happen to him. There's no why or how, and it's a shame."
Falls was at the Morris family's Buchanan home Friday as they mourned the premature loss of a second son.
During Morris' first tour in Iraq, in May 2004, he returned home to comfort his family following the loss of his 17-year-old brother, Aaron Morris.
The James River High School student died in an accident. The Botetourt County Sheriff's Office determined that he hit his head and then drowned after falling into a gully.
Stephen Morris arrived in the United States in time for his brother's funeral and spent the rest of his service stateside helping his parents and three sisters.
"I know it meant everything for him to be back home," Falls said. "He was there for his family."
A few years later, he deployed again as a Marine reservist before returning to his job at a local cement manufacturer in December. Falls said he battled post-traumatic stress disorder from what he witnessed in Iraq, but she didn't know of any particular issues he faced transitioning back into civilian life.
The family is still unsure what he had been doing Thursday night or where he was going at 11:30 p.m. when he crossed into oncoming traffic.
Jason Ferguson, a Botetourt County Emergency Services division chief, said the driver of the pickup did not appear to have suffered any life-threatening injuries.
Staff writer Chase Purdy contributed to this report.
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