Alabama crash under investigation; vigil to be held Tuesday

Saturday’s car accident that led to the death of Kent State student Joseph J. Marino, 23, and injured four other students will now be handled as a traffic homicide investigation. Any evidence will be sent to a grand jury to determine if charges will be filed.

Sergeant Steve Jarrett of the Alabama Department of Public Safety said Marino, who was also known as “JJ” and “Jage,” wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the 2001 Ford Escape after it collided with a 2002 Freightliner tractor-trailer driven by John Purifoy of Ashville,

Ala. According to social media reports, the Escape rolled several times.

The accident occurred Saturday on I-65 near Montgomery, Ala., as the students returned from Panama City Beach, where they were vacationing during spring break. Marino

was airlifted from the scene and died Sunday at Baptist Medical Center South Hospital in Montgomery, Ala.

A Facebook page created Sunday in Marino’s memory, “Praying for JJ,” received more than 6,000 “likes” in less than 24 hours. A donation page for Marino’s family has been set up at fundraiser/zd52/inlovingmemoryofjjmarino. The goal is to raise $8,000.

According to a story comment on, the four students traveling with Marino, Nader Hassen, Michael Willis, Lamar Washington and Joseph Noah, returned home Monday.

A candlelight vigil for Marino will be held at 9 p.m. Tuesday at 114 Brady St. in Kent.

Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected].

TV2 reporter Danielle Slack contributed to reporting.