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Foul play not suspected in death of Fort Hood soldier who collapsed during physical training

Pvt. Corlton L. Chee

PHOTO PROVIDED BY CARMA JOHNSON

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 9, 2020

AUSTIN, Texas — Foul play is not suspected in the death of the Fort Hood soldier who recently collapsed during physical training, said officials at the central Texas base. Two investigations into the incident are underway.

The Army requires a criminal investigation in every unexpected death of a soldier, according to a news release from the 1st Cavalry Division, where Pvt. Corlton Chee served in the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team since July.

“While we will strive to be as forthcoming and transparent as possible, we ask everyone to respect the family’s privacy during this period of grief and to allow us time to conduct a comprehensive investigation,” according to the release.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command and Chee’s unit have opened investigations into his Sept. 2 death. An autopsy was ordered from Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas and results are not expected for several weeks.

“It is too early in the process to draw any conclusions about why he collapsed or passed away,” according to the news release.

Chee collapsed near the end of a 2.2-mile run with his 11-member platoon on Aug. 28, which was the soldier’s 25th birthday. The platoon began the run at about 7 a.m. and continued as a group to a specified location, according to base officials. From there, troops were released to run back to the starting point as fast as they could.

“This type of activity is a normal part of everyday physical training in the Army,” according to the release. “Witnesses stated PV2 Chee showed no signs of struggling and was running at the front of the group when he collapsed near the end of the run.”

Immediately after Chee collapsed, unit personnel provided initial care until medics and emergency medical services arrived, according to the release. Chee was unresponsive and without a pulse, and the emergency crew implemented advanced life saving measures until his circulation returned.

Chee was taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and admitted to the intensive care unit. The chain of command contacted Chee’s family that same morning.

The next day, Chee’s condition worsened and he was transferred to the neurological intensive care unit of the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple. Chee’s sister Carma Johnson said his family was by his side, but the soldier never woke up before dying Sept. 2.

Chee’s unit is planning a unit memorial to honor the soldier, who enlisted in the Army about seven months ago. Members of the unit also plan to attend Chee’s funeral in New Mexico.

The soldier enlisted in February in his hometown of Pinehill, N.M., which is part of the Ramah Navajo Indian Reservation. Last week, leaders of the Navajo Nation called on Fort Hood to conduct an investigation into Chee’s death, as well as the death of fellow Navajo soldier Spc. Miguel D. Yazzie, who died at the central Texas base on July 3.

Navajo Nation Speaker of the Council Seth Damon, who leads the legislative branch of the nation’s tribal government, spoke via video conference Tuesday with acting Fort Hood commander Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson, according to a news release from the Navajo Nation.

Damon said he received assurance during the call that the soldiers’ deaths “will be investigated thoroughly.”

thayer.rose@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rose_Lori