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Special operations soldier is killed in vehicle accident at Key West Navy base

Sgt. 1st Class Hector Delgado Ortiz, 35, pictured here in an official photo, was killed Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, when he was hit by a security vehicle outside the Navy Exchange at Naval Air Station Key West's Sigsbee Park Annex in Florida.

U.S. ARMY

By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 18, 2020

A 17-year Army veteran and father of two was killed when he was hit by a security patrol truck that ran into the entrance of the Navy Exchange store at Naval Air Station Key West’s Sigsbee Park Annex this week.

Sgt. 1st Class Hector Delgado Ortiz, 35, a logistics soldier based at Fort Bragg, N.C., was on temporary duty for a site visit to the Special Forces Underwater Operations School at the Florida base when he was killed in the accident Monday afternoon, base spokeswoman Trice Denny said Friday.

The soldier was on foot when he was hit by the truck, which was being driven by a security force civilian, Denny said. The annex is primarily a housing complex with an exchange and commissary, schools and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities.

The security force civilian, who was injured in the incident, was taken by ambulance to Lower Keys Medical Center, NAS Key West said in a statement on Facebook.

The civilian was released Wednesday, Denny said in statement Thursday.

“This is a really small community,” she told Stars and Stripes by phone. “Our thoughts go out to their families.”

The soldier and the security force patrolman were the only two people involved in the accident, which happened in an area with a speed limit of 5 mph, she said.

The accident is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Key West Police Department, which both have jurisdiction in the area, she said.

NCIS declined to comment while inquiries are ongoing. Traffic homicide investigations can take several weeks because of the forensics and lab work involved, Key West Police Department spokeswoman Alyson Crean said by phone Friday.

Delgado Ortiz was assigned to 2nd Special Warfare Training Group (Airborne), John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, the Army said. The school oversees the dive school on base, which runs the seven-week Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course.

He had a “long history of success” and was respected throughout the special operations logistics community, having served at 1st Special Forces Command, the Joint Special Operations Command and the 528th Sustainment Brigade, the school said in a statement.

“Sgt. 1st Class Hector Delgado faithfully served the Army and the Nation for more than 17 years,” Col. Joshe Raetz, commander of the 2nd Special Warfare Training Group, said in the statement. “He was recently selected for promotion to master sergeant given his exceptional performance as well as his remarkable potential as a leader in the Army.”

The training group will posthumously promote him, spokeswoman Janice Burton said Friday in a phone call.

Delgado Ortiz is survived by his wife, Nairilys, and sons Elijah and Joshua, the command said.

The exchange and the commissary were shut down after the accident.

Officials reconfigured the entrance to the exchange, which remained closed until Thursday morning. The commissary reopened Wednesday, Denny said.

garland.chad@stripes.com
Twitter: @chadgarland
 

Aerial photo of Naval Air Station Key West???s Sigsbee Park Annex. Sgt. 1st Class Hector Delgado Ortiz, a logistics soldier based at Fort Bragg, N.C., was on temporary duty to the Special Forces Underwater Operations School at the Florida base when he was killed in a vehicle accident on Sept. 14, 2020.
CODY R. BABIN/U.S. NAVY