Home Base Life Highway 62 Death and Injuries to Twentynine Palms Marine Base

Highway 62 Death and Injuries to Twentynine Palms Marine Base


Update 1.15.15: The entire USMC Life family is saddened to learn that Terry Brooks, 26, was killed in a car accident yesterday. She was a military spouse and mother to three kids, ages 1, 4, and 7 who were also present in the car, but only received minor injuries.

Update 4.16.14: It is with heavy hearts that we report that Angela passed away on April 15th from injuries. More information from the accident has been released according to the High Desert Star:

“Nikki Jones, of Twentynine Palms, said she was on the scene of the accident and saw a third vehicle, which she said caused Zapata’s car to veer into oncoming traffic.

“I was driving west. I was in the right-hand lane,” she said Tuesday. “A black car raced behind me. It whipped around me and back in front of me and then it whipped up there in front of the white car, causing it to swerve.”

After the black car cut off Zapata’s vehicle, Jones said, it kept going.

That’s when Zapata hit the Marine Corps family head on (see original report below). Zapata, 22 of Magna Utah, has since been released from the hospital and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and causing an injury, a felony, according to a report issued by the California Highway Patrol, as reported in the High Desert Star.

Two More Marines Die in 29 Palms in April, 2014

We also learned that two other Marines died in the last few weeks in unrelated accidents.

  • Just weeks earlier on April 6th, Cpl. Elmer VanHoorebeke Jr., 27, was killed in a two-motorcycle collision on Park Boulevard. Both motorcyclists were killed. VanHoorebeke had previously deployed to Afghanistan according to his Google+ account and was stationed in 29 Palms as an electrical system technician.
  • Lance Cpl. Cory Coumbes, 24, was killed on April 12th, and was a rifleman stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. He too had deployed to Afghanistan previously and was killed Lear Avenue and Two Mile Road intersection at approximately 3am. “Coumbes was a passenger in a Kia Soul hit broadside by a Honda Fit that ran a stop sign, said Cindy Bachman, public information officer for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department” according to the Desert Sun. It also reported, “Investigators checked both drivers for alcohol but found no signs of impairment, Bachman said.”


Marines who died in 29 Palms April 2014



We just talked about the statistics for Highway 62. The headlines read: Desert base, deadly highway.


The Desert Sun reported on the military deaths that had taken place between 29 Palms Marine Corps Base and Palm Springs on Highway 62.  There’s a whole lot of nothing and a few small towns.

“…at least 27 other Marines who have died in off-duty vehicle accidents while stationed in Twentynine Palms since 2007. Five additional Marines who were visiting from other bases also died in the desert surrounding Twentynine Palms during this time period. Together, these fatalities represent more than 10 percent of all Marine off-duty vehicle deaths (305), since 2007, according to the Naval Safety Center.

The Twentynine Palms Combat Center is uniquely isolated: No other Marine base on U.S. soil places so many service members so far from major cities. The desert towns around the base are small, with few options for entertainment. Palm Springs is the closest hub for dining, night life, music, art or shopping, but the resort city sits about an hour from the base, an alluring oasis at the end of a long desert road.

That road is Highway 62, often called Twentynine Palms Highway, a 151-mile route that runs through the Mojave Desert from the Coachella Valley to the Arizona border. A dozen Marines have died on this road since 2007.”

Map of Military Deaths 29 Palms on Hwy 62


The report goes onto detail that many more Marines die at this base, then overseas.

“Vehicle crashes are a large part of what makes this desert more dangerous for off-duty Marines than virtually every other Marine base in the United States, with fatality figures that rival war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2007, the base in Twentynine Palms has suffered more non-hostile deaths, like car crashes and suicides, than war fatalities. Sixty service members from the base have died in war zones in the Middle East, but 64 have died on American soil, mostly in the High Desert, while either stationed or training at the base.”

This road is traveled by many to get the Palm Springs, the closest metropolitan area. We learned that 5 more people were seriously injured in a head-on collision and several were air lifted to hospitals on this same highway.

A drunk driver and her passenger struck and injured a Marine Corps family, including their infant daughter, near Joshua Tree.

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