An accident in Iraq is making a regional impact tonight. Sergeant Leroy Segura Junior of Clovis, New Mexico was killed in Iraq when the Humvee he was in lost control and went over a river levee. Family just learned of the news yesterday, which came exactly two weeks after Lubbock soldier Andrew Velez died in Afghanistan. NewsChannel 11's Suleika Acosta spoke with one of Segura's close friends and former coaches.
Friends and family knew the 23-year-old as J.R. He was a 2001 graduate of Clovis High School and was a member of the cross country team there. We spoke with his former coach, who describes him as a close friend and dedicated worker. "He always had a smile, he was very even-tempered, he never was real flashy or down but he was always very up beat and consistent," says Mark Bussen, J.R.'s high school cross country coach for three years.
Even after graduation, the two kept in close contact. Mark says J.R. was one of his most dedicated students. "If I were to sum it up, it would be just dependable. You could check off his name before you knew anyone would show up. You knew he was going to be there and put in his day's work," says Mark.
After getting burned during his first tour of duty in Iraq, J.R. went back for second tour, just last month. "The last comment he made to me was you have a duty and you've got it to do and that was his idea, kind of the way he approached things. I've got to a responsibility, that's what I'll take care of," he adds.
Mark tells us J.R. turned down a few scholarships to run in college. He chose the army instead. J.R. Leaves behind his mother, father and younger brother. The family is expecting his body to be returned to Clovis sometime later this week. They are waiting until then to make funeral arrangements and of course we'll release that information once it becomes available.