Justin K. Ward
Captain, United States Army
local couple involved in North Carolina accident
By BARRY FOSTER
Courtesy of the News-Sun
SEBRING, Florida - They survived deployment to Iraq, but it was a traffic accident in North Carolina that claimed the life of Justin Ward and sent his wife Jennifer to the hospital.
Newlyweds and Army Captains Justin and Jennifer Ward were on their way back to Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when the accident occurred Sunday evening.
Justin Ward had married the former Jennifer Leidel at First Baptist Church of Sebring this past November. Both were helicopter pilots and both had been deployed to the Mideast for a year.
The car crash occurred shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday just across the North Carolina state line. Lumberton, North Carolina, police report a semitrailer, carrying a load of canned goods, was southbound on I-95 and headed for Orlando. The chain reaction started as the big rig attempted to change lanes.
The 18-wheeler first sideswiped a Kia van and went out of control. It then swerved across the median into the northbound lane of the interstate where it ran over a Toyota Corolla driven by a Virginia man.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The tractor trailer then collided head on with a BMW driven by the 29-year-old Justin Ward. He was killed instantly.
Jennifer Ward was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, North Carolina, with a crushed elbow.
The semitrailer finally overturned in the northbound lane and caught fire. The northbound lane of the interstate was closed for about eight hours as crews worked into the early morning hours of Monday to clear the wreckage.
Jennifer Ward was a graduate of both Sebring High School and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She is a Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot with the 82nd Division.
Justin Ward was a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the 82nd Division. He had graduated from the University of Tampa in 2001 magna cum laude.
Funeral services for Justin Ward reportedly are set for Saturday in North Carolina, with interment set for Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Family friends said Jennifer Ward had undergone a couple of operations on her arm and was said to be "OK."
Charges against the driver of the truck, Henry
Joseph Worrell, of Mount Olive, North Carolina, are pending further investigation.
Army Captain Justin Ward, of Fayetteville, North Carolina and member of the 2003 All-Army Triathlon Team was killed January 2, 2005, in a car crash on I-95, south of Lumberton, North Carolina. Ward and his wife, Captain Jennifer Ward, were returning home after visiting the gravesite of Jenniferís company commander, who was killed in the ongoing Iraq conflict. Jennifer survived the accident.
Ward, 29, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. His military honors include the Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Oversees Ribbon and NATO Medal. He was posthumously award the Meritorious Service Medal.
In addition, Ward helped the Army to victory at the 2003 Armed Forces triathlon championships. Ward finished 69th overall in 2:19:51 at the Olympic-distance event.
Captain Kimberly Hampton, who was his wife's company commander. Captain Hampton was killed on January 2, 2004 in Iraq and is buried in Easley, South Carolina.
Photo Courtesy of Russell C. Jacobs, August 2006
WARD, JUSTIN K