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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A 19-year-old U.S. Navy sailor died around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday when he fell 50 feet from an observation tower near Chinhae Naval Base, according to the Navy.

A Korean maintenance worker found Seaman Apprentice Ian I. Passoth, of Denver, according to a Navy press release. Passoth was pronounced dead on arrival after being taken to Jaeil Hospital.

Passoth was off-duty at the time, and the incident is under investigation by Korean and Navy officials, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. K.C. Marshall, a spokesman for Commander, Naval Forces Korea. The observation tower is used by tourists to see Chinhae Harbor.

Passoth was an information-systems technician at Chinhae’s Navy Communication Detachment.

The 90-acre base, formally known as Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae, is the only U.S. Navy base in the country. The base serves the 7th Fleet — the Navy in the Pacific — in South Korea, supporting ships that dock and tenants on the base.

Chinhae is a port city with a population of 130,000 in the province of Kyong Sang Nam Do on the southeast coast of Korea. Fleet Activities Chinhae is positioned with the largest Korean Navy base on the peninsula.

A memorial service for Passoth was scheduled for Friday at Chinhae’s chapel.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to Seaman Passoth’s family and friends,” Marshall said.


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