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European edition, Friday, May 18, 2007

RAF MILDENHALL, England — A British coroner’s investigation has found that two airmen who died in separate vehicle accidents last year were heavily intoxicated and were driving on the wrong side of the road.

Senior Airman Julious Hawkins, a member of the 100th Maintenance Squadron at RAF Mildenhall, died Oct. 6 when his vehicle hit a large tow truck, according to a release issued Tuesday by the Greater Suffolk Coroner’s office.

Hawkins, 24, was traveling west in the eastbound lanes of the A14 highway at 3 a.m. Hawkins had a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit in England, which is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. Hawkins also was found with a therapeutic amount of diphenhydramine, a sedative and antihistamine, in his body.

First Lt. John Biram, 26, from the 48th Munitions Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, died Sept. 23, 2006, after his vehicle hit another vehicle head-on along the A1304 near the entrance to Newmarket Golf Club, a second coroner’s inquest release said. Biram’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

Both airmen were pronounced dead at the scene, the releases stated.

Greater Suffolk Coroner Dr. Peter Dean found both cases accidental and will notify commanders at Mildenhall and Lakenheath in the hope of averting future alcohol-related fatalities, the coroner’s office release said.

“Dr. P. Dean would hope that notifications would improve drunken driving awareness on the bases,” the release stated.

Although the bases have not planned any specialized training in response to the recent findings, both will continue ongoing driver training and briefings on alcohol-related incidents.

“We preach safety from commanders to the lowest level. Drinking and driving is not conducive to the military lifestyle. We offer a lot of programs that combat driving under the influence,” Mildenhall spokesman Capt. Jamie Humphries said.

On top of its two-hour local road conditions course, required of all newcomers, Lakenheath institutes an additional refresher course that all drivers under the age of 26 must complete within their first year there, spokeswoman Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young said.

Airmen are also encouraged to use the bases’ Airmen Against Drunk Driving services, which provide free rides to anyone who has had too much to drink.

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