UPDATE: U.S. Army officials say a motorcyclist killed in an El Paso traffic crash earlier in the week was a decorated soldier at Fort Bliss who had previously deployed overseas in the war on terror.
Spc. Samuel Birmingham, a 21-year-old California native, was a unit supply specialist assigned to 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. He was a recipient of the Army Achievement Medal.
"Samuel was a treasured member of our team, a fast riser within the ranks and destined to be a leader within our Army. Sam, was a young man full of life with many friends here in the Bandit Battalion,” said his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Salvador Zuniga.
“Our thoughts are with his Family and Friends in the time of their grief and we will do our best to honor his service and his memory in the coming days,” Zuniga said in a statement issued Saturday.
ORIGINAL REPORT: EL PASO, Texas -- A 21-year-old motorcyclist died in a crash with a speeding car that ran a red light in east El Paso late Wednesday night, police said.
Authorities on Thursday identified the victim as Samuel David Birmingham.
Investigators also indicated that they planned to file charges against the driver of the car, identified as 32–year-old Aaron Lopez. The charges were pending the release of Lopez from hospitalization for serious crash injuries.
The collision at Gateway Boulevard East at Giles Road was so severe, a police report stated, that it "caused the motorcycle to fracture into multiple pieces" as Birmingham was ejected and killed despite wearing a helmet and protective vest.
"Investigators believe the contributing factors to be Lopez failing to stop at the red light and operating the vehicle at a high rate of speed," the police incident report said.
Birmingham's death marked the 56th El Paso traffic fatality of the year, compared with 46 at this same time last year.