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An Air Force C-17A pilot transiting through Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, drowned Tuesday afternoon in the swimming pool of a local off-base hotel.

The pilot was identified as 1st Lt. Steve Hatton of the 14th Airlift Squadron, 437th Airlift Wing, of Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. He was in Sigonella on a crew rest.

Hatton had been swimming at the Sigonella Inn, a few hundred yards from the NAS I complex main gate, according to the base public affairs office. Officials said that the swimming pool is a popular after-work hangout for sailors.

Public affairs officials did not have much information on the incident because it occurred off base, but said that an off-duty Navy corpsman started cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Hatton at the scene.

Naval Hospital Sigonella dispatched a medical team to the hotel around 2:45 p.m. Hatton was taken to the hospital on NAS I, and later pronounced dead.

Hatton is a Lakewood, Colo., native and flew C-17s in support of both the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom operations.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Italian authorities and Air Force safety officers are investigating the death.

This is the fifth death involving U.S. military personnel near naval bases in Europe in less than two weeks.

On June 12, three Naples, Italy-based sailors were killed in an early morning car crash on the Tangenziale expressway which runs through the city.

Less than a week later, another sailor died in a car crash near the Naval Station Rota, Spain.

All Navy units in Europe will be holding mandatory safety training by the the end of next week in preparation for the Fourth of July weekend, said Lt. Karen Armstrong of the Navy Region Europe public affairs office.

Armstrong said that regional commander Rear Adm. Stanley Bozin is putting out a “personal for” message to all European base commanders mandating the stand down, which means the bases will effectively shut down for the duration of the training.

The stand down for the Navy Region Europe staff will run about four hours, she said.

Armstrong said that safety stand downs are held periodically, especially around major holidays. This current stand down is not being driven by the previous deaths, but “special attention will be focused on the motor vehicle accidents.”

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