Navy identifies 2 sailors found dead in hotel
January 4, 2008
The Navy on Thursday identified two sailors found dead on New Year’s Day in a hotel room in Accra, Ghana.
The deceased are Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Brendan Mack, 22, of Warren., Mich., and Seaman Lonnie Lee Davis Jr., 35, of Riverdale, Ga. The causes of their deaths are being investigated, according to Navy Lt. Patrick Foughty, a spokesman for 6th Fleet in Naples, Italy.
“There was no immediate evidence to indicate foul play,” Foughty said.
Mack and Davis were assigned to the USS Fort McHenry, which was in port in Tema, Ghana, located about 20 miles east of Accra, the Ghanaian capital. The two sailors were on liberty, meaning they were among those excused from the ship to go ashore for the night.
Foughty and Joseph Derkwah, a spokesman with the Ghana police’s criminal investigation division, said the bodies would be flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where autopsies would be performed.
They would not comment on a CNN news report stating that the two men died from alcohol poisoning.
“We cannot say that officially,” Derkwah said. “The bodies will be sent (Thursday) for post-mortem examination. From there, the doctor’s report will tell us. Until then we cannot say anything.”
Mack and Davis were among sailors who were staying at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, a resort located on the Gulf of Guinea, part of the Atlantic Ocean located off Africa’s western coast. The hotel describes itself on its Web site as a 144-room luxury hotel where rooms start at $255 per night.
When reached by telephone, a man who identified himself as the hotel’s manager declined to answer questions about the incident and referred queries to the U.S. Embassy in Accra. Calls on Thursday to the embassy’s public information office were not answered, and its answering machine was full so that further messages could not be left.
The Daily Graphic newspaper in Accra, citing Ghana’s deputy commissioner of police, Frank Adu-Poku, reported that a third sailor at the scene who was unconscious was later revived.
Foughty, the Navy spokesman, said that overnight liberty was granted to the sailors to spend New Year’s Eve in Accra, and that the hotel had been previously checked for safety and reputation by Navy investigators. Additionally, servicemembers are typically briefed on the ship about onshore security considerations at host-nation ports before being granted liberty, Foughty said.
The USS Fort McHenry departed Norfolk, Va., in October for a seven-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea. It serves as the flagship for the Africa Partnership Station, which is performing safety and security training with militaries from African nations located on Africa’s western coast.
About 450 sailors are assigned to the ship, as well as about 100 personnel from other services such as the Coast Guard and nongovernmental organizations such as Project Hope.