CRAVEN COUNTY - Officials have released the cause of death for two Camp Lejeune Marines whose vehicle crashed off a notoriously dangerous road in Craven County.
According to Camp Lejeune, a medical examiner concluded that PFC Skyler Way and LCpl. Nick Buscarnera both died of drowning.
The two victims, both 19, were found dead in an overturned car in a canal off Catfish Lake Road Tuesday night. The road is in the Croatan National Forest.
Way's mother, Shannon, told NewsChannel 12 that her son had been in the Marine Corps for just more than a year. Shannon said she was told about the dangerous road and urges Marines to stay off it.
"It's nothing but a death hole," Shannon said.
Troopers said Way was behind the wheel, and was "exceeding a safe speed" when he lost control. The car then ran off the road to the left and overturned into a canal, where it became partially submerged, according to investigators.
Troopers said the car looked like it had been in the canal "for some time." It was pulled out after 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The bodies of the two Marines were then found inside the vehicle, investigators said.
Troopers said they are investigating if alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Buscarnera's girlfriend, Krista Amato, said when she heard the news, she couldn't believe it.
"I kept telling myself that it wasn't true, that he was going to call me and tell me he was okay," Amato said. "I love him to pieces, more than I could even explain to you. He means everything to me. He's my whole world and I'm going to miss him."
Amato told NewsChannel 12 the last time she spoke with Buscarnera was at about 10 p.m. Monday. Then, his texts and calls suddenly stopped.
"He just said he was hanging out with Skyler. Him and Skyler are best friends. They're always together all the time, so it was nothing different to me," Amato said.
Friends said the two Marines both went to boot camp at Parris Island, and quickly became best friends when they moved to Camp Lejeune.
Miranda El Ghazal said she was friends with both victims.
"I knew that [Buscarnera] and Way were really good friends. Just to know he's not around is pretty hard," Ghazal said.
Way and Buscarnera were both ammunition technicians for the 2d Marine Logistic Group, a Camp Lejeune official said. Way joined the Marine Corps on Sept. 17, 2013. Buscarnera joined the Marine Corps on Jan. 7, 2013.
Troopers told NewsChannel 12 both victims were from New York- Way was from Gouverneur and Buscarnera was from Mastic Beach.
The Marine Corps banned Marines from driving on Catfish Lake Road in 2010; the only exception is if the road is used for recreational purposes.
Since the fall of 2009, five Marines have been killed in crashes on that road. Five others, including three children, have also been killed on that road since 2009.