TUSCALOOSA, AL — A former astronaut who flew five missions and helped lead NASA back into space after the space shuttle Columbia disaster is charged with murder after a wreck early Monday morning that killed two girls in Alabama, state troopers said.
Col James Halsell Jr, 59, of Huntsville was arrested after a crash killed 11-year-old Niomi Deona James and 13-year-old Jayla Latrick Parler of Brent on Monday , said a statement from Reginal King, a spokesman for Alabama state troopers.
Troopers said a Chrysler 300 driven by Col Halsell collided with a Ford Fiesta in which the girls were passengers. Both victims were ejected from the vehicle and died.
Two adults who were in the car suffered injuries and were hospitalized.
A preliminary investigation indicated alcohol and speed may have been factors in the crash, said the statement by King. The wreck happened at 2:50 a.m. on U.S. 82, a rural highway east of Tuscaloosa.
Court records weren’t available Tuesday to show whether Col Halsell, a retired Air Force colonel, has a lawyer. A message left at a home telephone number wasn’t immediately returned.