Air Force captain dies after damaged tire explodes in her lap


RAF MILDENHALL, England — An England-based Air Force officer died Thursday from injuries sustained last week when a damaged car tire exploded in her lap during a trip to Scotland.

Capt. Jenna Wilcox, and her husband, Capt. Scott Wilcox, pulled into a garage at about 6 p.m. March 27 in Dalkeith, just outside of Edinburgh, after changing a tire on their BMW Z3 approximately 100 miles earlier, according to Inspector David Muir, a spokesman for the Lothian and Borders police in Scotland.

Jenna Wilcox was in the passenger seat and had the damaged tire on her lap when it suddenly exploded, blowing out the car’s windows and roof, he said.

She was taken to Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, where she succumbed to her injuries Thursday, Muir said. She was 27.

Scott Wilcox, who was outside the car when the tire exploded, sustained minor injuries from the shattered windows, Muir said.

While an investigation remains under way, Muir said there appears to be no foul play involved.

“All indications are that this is a tragic accident,” he said.

Jenna Wilcox, assigned to RAF Mildenhall’s 100th Civil Engineering Squadron, is originally from the Buffalo, N.Y. area, according to Capt. Lindsey Hahn, a spokeswoman for Mildenhall’s 100th Air Refueling Wing.

A few weeks ago, Wilcox had returned from a deployment to Afghanistan, where she worked on a provincial reconstruction team.

During her time downrange, Jenna Wilcox kept a blog. In it she reflected on the counterinsurgency and her role outside the wire. She had escaped injury when her convoy hit a roadside bomb and, in one post, she wrote about receiving the Army Combat Action Badge.

As the end of her deployment neared, her blog posts turned to thoughts of home.

“This deployment has been very wearing and I feel a lot older (and have more gray hairs to prove it),” Wilcox wrote in a Feb. 15 post. “I just have to stay focused until the very end, when I can kiss the UK soil and my sweet Scott.”

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