Guilty Plea by Former Marine in DUI Fatality Accident

A Tampa car accident resulted in the death of 48-year-old Pedro Rivera and the conviction of former Marine Scott Sciple, 38, for DUI manslaughter and DUI with personal injury. This case has raised the issue of the problems combat veterans face when returning home and was a part of Sciple’s defense. Sciple’s attorney, John Fitzgibbons, blamed post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury from combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq for his client’s actions.

Rivera’s wife, Carmen Rodriguez, who was injured in the head-on crash, spoke through a translator, saying she had agreed to a plea deal because she wanted to “provide relief for [Sciple’s] family.” Sciple was released to a treatment facility in Virginia and has received credit for time served toward his sentence of one year in jail. He was also sentenced to 12 years’ probation and 2 years of house arrest.

The tragic Tampa personal injury case highlighted the need for better evaluation of returning vets who suffer from invisible injuries such as PTSD. Sciple had been wounded in multiple incidents during combat, including a head injury after a rocket attack that led those attending to him to believe that he was dead. He has received three Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for heroism.

“Everyone involved in this case is a casualty of war,” said Fitzgibbons. The case of this Tampa car accident has resulted in the Marines changing the way they evaluate returning vets in hopes of preventing a tragedy like this happening again.