A 27-year-old Marine accused of killing three friends in fatal car wreck following a night of heavy drinking at a Dana Point tavern is set to go on trial Wednesday.
Jared Ray Hale, 27, and three fellow Marines – all stationed at Camp Pendleton – spent hours drinking at Hennessey’s Tavern before piling into Hale’s Dodge sedan during early on Feb. 14, 2012, and heading north on Golden Lantern, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.
FOR THE RECORD
Dec. 3, 12:18 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Jared Ray Hale faces three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter. He actually faces a felony count of causing bodily injury while driving under the influence and a felony count of driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more and causing bodily injury.
When Hale approached a curve in the road, he allegedly lost control of the car, ran over a landscaped center median and slammed into a tree.
Jeremiah Callahan, 23, of Nebraska and Christopher Arzola, 21, of Massachusetts were pronounced dead at the scene while a third passenger, Jason Chleborad, a 22-year-old from South Dakota, died later at Mission Community Hospital in Mission Viejo.
Hale sustained a fractured arm and brain trauma, but survived, authorities said. When he was tested 90 minutes after the accident, Hale had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16, roughly double the legal limit, prosecutors said.
The Marine faces felony counts of causing bodily injury while driving under the influence and driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or more and causing bodily injury. He also faces a sentencing enhancement for driving with a blood-alcohol level in excess of 0.15.
On a Facebook page created to raise funds for Hale's defense, the Marine's mother wrote that her son had been the designated driver and had been served only soft drinks at the tavern.