An automobile crash earlier this month killed a chief who was on leave in Puerto Rico, according to Navy records and local media reports.

Chief Machinist’s Mate Armando Rodriguez was driving a Nissan Titan pickup truck in the coastal city of Ponce late Sept. 9 when he lost control, crossed into the opposing lane of traffic and then struck a fence and tree, the newspaper La Perla Del Sur reported.

Rodriguez, 34, was taken to the nearby Hospital Metropolitano Dr. Pila where he later died. One of his passengers also died and another in the backseat suffered minor injuries, according to La Perla Del Sur.

Originally from Ponce, Rodriguez served on board the Japan-based guided-missile destroyer Curtis Wilbur from late 2017 through Sept. 1, 2019.

He had taken leave before reporting to Navy Recruiting District Miami, said Naval Safety Center spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.

Rodriguez spoke of his love for the Navy in a 2018 community outreach story.

"I’m thankful for serving in the Navy, I don’t know what I would have done otherwise,” he said. “It opened the doors for my family and myself and built me into the person I am today.”

After graduating from Jardines De Ponce High School in 2003 Rodriguez enlisted in the Navy.

He deployed to Iraq from 2009 to 2010 as an individual augmentee. He was advanced to chief in 2017.

Rodriguez is one of at least 27 sailors to die in a private motor vehicle accident during the federal fiscal year that ends Monday.

Courtney Mabeus-Brown is the senior reporter at Air Force Times. She is an award-winning journalist who previously covered the military for Navy Times and The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., where she first set foot on an aircraft carrier. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy and more.

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