Army probes death of soldier found hanged
April 8, 2007
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Army officials are investigating the death of a 25-year-old sergeant who had been dead five days to a week when his body was found hanging in his room at Camp Humphreys last month.
Sgt. Joshua M. Vail was an electrician assigned to Company B, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, part of the 2nd Infantry Division.
Army Criminal Investigation Command agents are investigating the death, Maj. Kimeisha McCullum, 2nd Infantry Division spokeswoman, said Friday.
McCullum said she did not know why so many days had passed before Vail was found, but he had been on regular duty status and not on leave.
“They’re investigating the entire death of the soldier to determine all of that information,” she said.
She said no official determination as to cause of death had been made.
A report of a foul odor emanating from Vail’s room led to the discovery of his body, hanging by a belt tied to a towel rack in the bathroom. The door to Vail’s room was locked, and entry was made through a partly open window.
Medical personnel pronounced Vail dead at 1:30 p.m. March 28, but Mortuary Affairs personnel said his remains indicated he had been dead for five to seven days, according to information published in Friday’s Morning Calm military newspaper. They confirmed his identity through dental records.
A check of medical records turned up no history of a pre-existing medical condition that could have contributed to Vail’s death.
The brigade held a memorial service for Vail in the Humphreys theater Thursday, said Robert McElroy, spokesman for the U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys.
The brigade also is conducting a separate investigation headed by an officer, routine Army practice when a serious incident occurs within a unit, McCullum said.
Vail was single and is survived by his parents, McCullum said.
His death led U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell to issue a peninsulawide message March 29 calling on military community members to be ready to step in to help servicemembers who may be struggling with depression or other stresses.
“Extended periods of separation can lead to depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and suicide,” he wrote.
“We may never know whether this death could have been prevented with intervention; however, it is important now to review some basic leadership procedures and emphasize wellness issues,” Bell wrote.