U.S. Military Apologizes for Deaths
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ The top U.S. military commander in South Korea apologized Thursday for the deaths of two South Korean students who were fatally struck by a U.S. armored vehicle last month.
``I apologize for the grief and sorrow we’ve inflicted on these two family, which is indescribable,″ said Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, who commands 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.
``The U.S. Army accepts full responsibility for this tragic accident,″ he said in a news release.
Since the accident, protests have taken place to demand an apology from the U.S. military and a trial in a South Korean court of the two soldiers who were in the vehicle.
South Korea has no jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers involved in accidents while on duty, under the Status of Forces Agreement that governs the conduct of the U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea.
LePorte said the U.S. military will take ``corrective actions″ to prevent the June 13 incident from occurring again. He did not elaborate.
An initial investigation by the U.S. military and South Korean police concluded last month that the deaths were a ``tragic accident.″
The accident occurred on June 13 when an armored bridge carrier on a training operation in Yangju near the border with North Korea, hit two 14-year-old girls.
The vehicle hit the girls as it was rounding a curve and as a convoy of Bradley fighting vehicles was approaching in the opposite direction, the military said.
South Korean police said the driver of the vehicle testified he could not hear a warning to stop the vehicle because he was using radio communication.