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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason P. Lewis died in his berthing compartment aboard the USS Kitty Hawk early Friday morning. Lewis, 23, worked in aviation ordnance for Strike Fighter Squadron 27.

An autopsy has been performed to determine the cause of Lewis’ death, said Carrier Strike Group 5 spokesman Lt. Cmdr. John Bernard. “Right now, we don’t have any reason to assume foul play,” he said. “It appears he died of natural causes.”

Lewis, from Grand Rapids, Mich., was found in his berthing compartment around 3:30 a.m. The ship’s chief medical officer tried to resuscitate Lewis for almost an hour, Bernard said, but Lewis was pronounced dead at 4:45 a.m., and his family in Grand Rapids was notified.

Because the Kitty Hawk was at sea at the time, Lewis’ body was flown to U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa later that morning for the autopsy. The Naval Criminal Investigation Service is looking into the matter, Bernard said. “It’s not because there is anything suspicious about Lewis’ death but the NCIS handles all investigations like this,” Bernard said.

He said a man died from a congenital heart defect aboard the Kitty Hawk last year, during the aircraft carrier’s summer deployment.

“We don’t want to speculate too far, but right now, it looks like it could be a similar situation,” he said. Nothing definite will be known until the results of the autopsy are released, he added.

The Kitty Hawk returned to Yokosuka Naval Base on Monday. A memorial service for Lewis will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Naval Air Facility Atsugi’s Chapel of the Good Shepherd.


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