A young sailor home for the holidays died earlier this month after his vehicle was rear-ended by a truck, according to the Iowa State Patrol.

Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Austin P. Gainuss, 22, was driving on Interstate 80 in Iowa’s Polk County just after 10 p.m. on Dec. 29 when a GMC pickup truck traveling “at a high rate of speed” struck his Ford Focus from behind, sending it into a ditch where it hit a tree, according to the official crash report.

Rushed to Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines by helicopter, Gainuss died from his injuries on New Year’s Day, according to Naval Safety Center records.

A passenger in the Focus, 24-year-old Joshua L. Cox of nearby Prairie City, also died, the crash report indicated.

The accident remains under investigation and charges are pending against the 37-year-old pickup’s driver, Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Nathan Ludwig told Navy Times.

An Iowa native, Gainuss enlisted in 2015 and served three years on board the guided-missile destroyer Lassen, according to his military records.

He reported to the Naval Medicine Readiness and Training Command in Jacksonville, Florida, in November.

Gainuss leaves behind a daughter, according to his obituary.

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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