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Kings Bay sailors found dead 4 days apart at same home after apparent drug overdoses

Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is shown in this undated photo.

U.S. NAVY PHOTO

By JOE DARASKEVICH AND TERRY DICKSON | The Florida Times-Union (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 17, 2017

The deaths of two sailors assigned to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base — found four days apart, but in the same off-base home — are under investigation after what authorities are calling separate drug overdoses.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Jerrell, assigned to the Trident Training Facility at Kings Bay, was found dead Thursday inside the home, said Sarah Self-Kyler, spokeswoman for U.S. Submarine Forces. She said she is handling all inquiries about the situation because the sailors were part of different commands on the base.

She said Jerrell was house-sitting at the time. When Petty Officer 2nd Class Ty Bell came back, he found his home was an active crime scene and learned of the death. Bell is assigned to the Ohio-class ballistic submarine USS Wyoming at Kings Bay, according to the Navy.

Self-Kyler said Bell stayed with a friend for a night as Jerrell’s death was investigated and he returned home once the scene was cleared.

Bell was found dead Monday at the same home, Self-Kyler said. She said toxicology reports are not complete, but both deaths look like apparent drug overdoses. Both sailors were 26 years old.

The Kingsland Police Department is investigating with support from the Navy Criminal Investigative Service, Self-Kyler said.

Police reports indicate Bell lived in the residence in the 100 block of Spinnaker Circle and was found on a couch. Jerrell was found on the floor in the back bedroom four days earlier, according to the reports.

Stacy Carson, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Kingsland field office, said the GBI has begun investigating overdose deaths to determine whether they resulted from fentanyl, a powerful and sometimes deadly drug.

The Kingsland office has not been asked to assist in the investigation of the sailors’ deaths, but Kingsland police could have sent the victims’ bodies to a GBI crime lab for autopsies that include toxicology tests without contacting her office, Carson said.

Looking for fentanyl has almost become standard in drug deaths, Carson said.

As recently as June, the GBI identified two new analogues of fentanyl and issued warnings to police agencies that exposure to the drug through the skin or accidental inhalation could be deadly. The GBI also issued procedures for handling spills of suspected fentanyl.

The Navy completed a urinalysis sweep of all commands in the Kings Bay area following the deaths, Self-Kyler said. She said local commanders will update their crew members on drug programs and available resources.

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©2017 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)
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