A junior sailor assigned to the guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill died late last month after a motorcycle accident near San Diego, police and Navy officials confirmed this week.

Damage Controlman Fireman Apprentice Robert L. Barksdale, 19, was driving a motorcycle southbound on Interstate 15 near Mira Mesa at about 2:45 a.m. on Sept. 22 when his motorcycle struck a highway attenuator on a diamond lane, according to California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Jake Sanchez.

Often nicknamed “crash cushions” and painted yellow, the devices are installed to guide vehicles away from roadside dangers and absorb the kinetic energy of a crash. This one was erected along a high-occupancy vehicle lane designed to ease chronic congestion by promoting carpooling.

Barksdale was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital in nearby La Jolla and died on Sept. 24, according to Sanchez and Naval Safety Center records.

The Naval Safety Center counted 18 off-duty motorcycle deaths in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, down from 21 in 2017.

A California native, Barksdale reported to the Bunker Hill in May, shortly after the warship returned from an overseas deployment the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group.

It was Barksdale’s first assignment out of service school, according to Navy records.

He was buried on Oct. 9 at Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside County.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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