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Sailor dies after falling from elevator of USS Nimitz while in port near San Diego

F/A-18F Super Hornets prepare to launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on July 19, 2019.

KEENAN DANIELS/U.S. NAVY

By DAHLIA BAZZAZ | The Seattle Times | Published: September 29, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — A junior-ranking sailor died early Saturday morning from a fall as he was boarding the USS Nimitz, which is currently in port at Naval Air Station North Island near San Diego. He was 21.

The Navy is not releasing any more information about the sailor until Sunday evening. Department of Defense policy is to withhold release of names until 24 hours after next of kin has been notified. Sailors from all over the country are assigned to the aircraft carrier.

The aircraft carrier’s home port is in Bremerton, Wash. Sailors were at the Naval Air Station North Island for routine training operations, said Bill Petkovski, deputy public affairs officer for the USS Nimitz.

About 9 p.m. Friday, the sailor fell several stories onto the pier from the ship’s aircraft elevator, which had been lowered and connected to a walkway used to board and exit the ship. Paramedics took him to a nearby hospital, but he died from his injuries about 2 a.m. Saturday.

That type of accident is not common for the ship, Petkovski said.

“That’s one of the things that’s so stunning about it,” Petkovski said. “Our prayers are with the sailor’s family. It’s a tough situation for the command, and for his family.”

It’s possible that the sailor might have fallen off one of the elevator’s edges as he stepped down from the walkway. The Navy is still investigating the cause of the accident.

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