Orange County prosecutors are considering filing criminal charges against a Los Angeles County deputy who was off-duty when he fell asleep at the wheel in November 2022 and killed two Marines from Camp Pendleton who were sitting in a disabled car.
Although the accident happened almost a year ago, the California Highway Patrol delivered the accident report to the district attorney's office on September 21, with the recommendation to consider charges of vehicular manslaughter against 26-year-old Deputy Michael John Miscione.
"One of our veteran homicide prosecutors is carefully reviewing the facts of the case to determine what criminal charges can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," said Kimberly Edds, spokesperson for the district attorney's office.
The deaths of Lance Corporals James Robert Patton, 20, from Cary, North Carolina, and Samantha Lee Berrios, 20, from Levittown, New York, were not reported to the media by the California Highway Patrol.
"Two Marines die unjustly and not a peep is heard," complained Patton's father, Michael.
Officials from the California Highway Patrol station in San Juan Capistrano did not immediately respond to inquiries from the Southern California News Group about why the deputy's occupation and the victims were not included in the accident report.
According to the report obtained by SCNG, the crash occurred at 3:48 a.m. on November 5, 2022, on southbound Interstate 5, nearly 1,000 feet south of Crown Valley Parkway in Mission Viejo.
Miscione had finished his shift at 3 a.m. and was driving his Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck in the high-occupancy vehicle lane at approximately 88 mph, more than 30 mph above the speed limit in the construction zone at that time, according to the report.
Miscione told investigators that he fell asleep, unaware that a Honda in front of him had become disabled after hitting a median wall. The driver of the Honda, Aden A. Baker, had exited the car and was calling for a tow truck, according to the report. The lights on the Honda were off, and Baker did not call 911, according to the report.
Baker told investigators that Patton and Berrios initially got out of the Honda but got back in because they were cold, according to the report. He said he warned them that it was dangerous to stay in a disabled vehicle in a traffic lane.
The two Marines were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics, according to the report.
Miscione, who listed the Century Sheriff's Station in Lynwood as his address, was treated at Providence Mission Hospital for arm and head pain. The report indicated that he had no car insurance or home phone.
Responders found Miscione walking in the vicinity after the crash, waiting for California Highway Patrol officers.
Patton's family has filed a lawsuit against Miscione and is hopeful that the prosecutor will file criminal charges.
"If he was so tired, there were other things he could have done," said Michael Patton, who believes Miscione had just completed a double shift. "I think it was a poor choice to go on the road that night."
Miscione could not be reached for comment.
Before joining the Marine Corps, James Patton was an Eagle Scout who enjoyed camping, hiking, and mountain climbing, sometimes with his father.
Michael Patton said James' death left a huge void in the family.
"It's quite devastating," Michael said. "The hardest part of losing him was that he had just begun the biggest adventure of transitioning from a boy to a grown man."
Samantha Berrios was a Huey and Cobra helicopter structures mechanic, according to her obituary.
She was described as an Explorer who enjoyed traveling, learning about new cultures, and immersing herself in the language, cuisine, and customs wherever she was.
Originally posted at Liga Legal®