Kingwood community mourning loss of 18-year-old marine killed in crash

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 7:00 PM EST
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KINGWOOD, W.Va (WDTV) - We first told you last night about the death of Zach Riffle, the Preston County teen who was 1 of 2 marines killed in a horrific crash in North Carolina on Wednesday.

Friends and family are mourning the death of 18-year-old Zach Riffle.

The Kingwood native was a multi-sport athlete at Preston High School, where he graduated early so he could enlist in the military.

Riffle was one of 17 passengers thrown from a military truck that overturned Wednesday in Onslow County, North Carolina.

He and one other, were killed, less than a year after he entered active duty service.

Riffle’s wrestling Coach Bradley Reed says riffle will be missed by everyone who knew him.

He was an athlete and kid that you couldn’t help but love.

“The things that stick out to me about Zach from his wrestling career was he was kind of a goof. He was a great kid you know always had a smile on his face, was quick with a joke,” said Reed.

Josh Russell says he taught him his junior year.

“...and am a former marine and so and he didn’t even tell me like I found out after the fact when he was gone so yeah it kinda hits kinda hard,” said Russell.

Russell said he had a huge rock as a hall pass.

“And one day another student jokingly kicked her bag out and he tripped and he fell and the rock hit the -- I’ll probably get in troubling if this comes out but you know hit the floor so there’s a crack on my floor that, That’s always going to be my memory of Zach Riffle,” said Russell.

Reed says Riffle was a fighter, never giving up and always asked what he could improve on.

“He was also a kid that worked hard, he knew what we were talking about he’d listened he was a kid that you could give a hard time to, and he’d respond well to that”

Before Riffle graduated, Reed says he told him he was going to join the marine corp.

“When he texts me that and said that’s what he was going to do I was really proud of his decision to step out of that you know being a young man to being a man,” said Reed. “That’s the kind of person I think Zach was you know he made that decision on his own to serve our country and to graduate early I was never more proud a Zach than when he told me that.”

Authorities have charged 19-year-old Louis Barrera of Springfield, Tennessee, with one count of exceeding a safe speed and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

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