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Sepsis caused sailor’s death last fall aboard USS Ronald Reagan, Navy says

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan transits the Philippine Sea, Oct. 2, 2016.

TYRONE PHAM/U.S. NAVY PHOTO

By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 23, 2017

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Navy says sepsis was to blame for a USS Ronald Reagan sailor’s abrupt death last fall during a patrol in the Yellow Sea.

Seaman Recruit Danyelle Luckey, 23, who served as a personnel specialist, died aboard the Yokosuka-based aircraft carrier on Oct. 10. A Navy statement issued at the time said a sailor had “died suddenly after a brief illness.”

An autopsy was conducted a few days after Luckey’s death by the U.S. Forces Korea Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Center, 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Paul Newell said Friday.

Sepsis “is a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and death.

The incident triggered a line-of-duty inquiry and Judge Advocate General Manual and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigations. The Navy’s Virginia-based Bureau of Medicine and Surgery also conducted a quality-of-care review to “encourage candid peer appraisal and quality assurance for constant process improvement within Navy medical treatment facilities both ashore and underway,” Newell said.

Luckey’s family received both reports as well as the autopsy results, he added.

Newell said the Ronald Reagan’s crew held a memorial ceremony for Luckey aboard the carrier shortly after her death. The crew lined the passageways from the medical department to the flight deck while the ship was underway.

“Her loss comes as a tragic shock to her shipmates,” Capt. Michael Donnelly, the Ronald Reagan’s commanding officer, said in an October statement. “For the crew, our thoughts and prayers are focused on her family during this time.”

Luckey, of Pittsburg, Calif., enlisted in May 2016 and joined the ship during a port visit to Guam shortly after the carrier finished participating in Valiant Shield drills last September.

The Ronald Reagan was her first duty station following basic training and military occupational school.

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com

Photos of Danyelle Luckey shared on social media.
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