Alcohol a factor as embellished captain and commandant James Halsell Jr is apprehended after his auto rear-ended another on Alabama highway, killing two young girls

Astronaut James Halsell Jr seemed the very definition of someone with the right stuff an Air Force Academy graduate and decorated test pilot, he flew on five space shuttle assignments, either as commandant or aviator. Nasa even turned to him for leadership as it was picking up the slice after the Columbia disaster in 2003.

Now, a decade after his retirement from the seat organization, the 59 -year-old Halsells life has taken a scandalizing turn: he is charged with assassinate after an early morning automobile clang killed two young sisters on a lonely stretch of superhighway in Alabama.

State police said alcohol and velocity may well be influences in the crash.

Troopers said a vehicle driven by Halsell crashed about 2.50 am on Monday with a Ford Fiesta in which 11 -year-old Niomi Deona James and 13 -year-old Jayla Latrick Parler were razzing. The girls were thrown from the car and died. Neither had been wearing a seatbelt, the authorities said.

Halsell, who live in Huntsville, was arrested and released from jail on $150,000 bail.

James Halsell speaks to reporters at Cape Canaveral, Flordia, in April 2000. Photograph: Peter Cosgrove/ AP

The girlfriends father, Pernell James, 37, had driven to Texas to pick them up at their moms home in Houston for a summer-long inspect to Alabama, said Dennis Stripling, mayor of the town of Brent.

Its very tragic, a sad thing that has happened, Stripling said. They were like 20 instants from home when this accident happened.

The father was expected to be released from a infirmary on Tuesday. A wife in his car, Shontel Latriva Cutts, 25, was listed in fair condition.

The crash happened in a remote, wooded neighbourhood on the edge of Tuscaloosa county with no roadway lampposts.

Halsell, who told policemen he had been driving to Louisiana to pick up his son, did not recollect the gate-crash, documents said.

Halsells vehicle rear-ended the car carrying the children, records demonstrated, pushing private vehicles across a road and justification it to flip.

Halsells speech was slurred, sees were distended, invests dishevelled and he was unstable on his feet and smelled of booze, the trooper wrote in national courts deposition, according to the newspaper.

Halsell graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1978 and later finished first in his class at test-pilot academy. He applied for every Nasa astronaut class from 1978 to 1990, when he was accepted.

An online biography by Nasa said Halsell went to work in the aerospace industry in 2006 after a profession that included five shuttle flights starting in 1994. He spent more than 1,250 hours in space, serving as captain on three shuttle missions and captain on two others.

He likewise extended Nasas return-to-flight planning crew after space shuttle Columbia deteriorated during re-entry in 2003.

In Brent the mayor said city hall was accumulating money donations to help the girls house with funeral overheads and other needs.


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