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Three soldiers die, three hurt in Fort Stewart training accident

In a September 25, 2019 file photo, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle assigned to A Co., 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, advances to the first berm to fire at Fort Stewart, Ga.

JORDYN WORSHEK/U.S. ARMY

By KYLE SWENSON | The Washington Post | Published: October 20, 2019

An accident during a training exercise at a U.S. Army post in Georgia resulted in three deaths Sunday morning, the service said.

According to a news release, three members of the Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team were pronounced dead at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, outside of Savannah, after “an early morning training accident” involving a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Additional details about the crash have not been released.

“Today is a heartbreaking day for the 3rd Infantry Division, and the entire Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community,” Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, said in the release. “We are extremely saddened by the loss.”

Three other soldiers were injured and were transported to Winn Army Community Hospital for treatment, according to the release.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy,” Aguto said.

The Army has yet to release the names of the soldiers involved. Their next of kin are being notified, and the incident is under investigation, the release said.

The Fort Stewart incident comes as more than a dozen American service members have been killed in training exercises in the past year. The death toll has prompted calls from military families and congressional leaders for improved training standards and practices.

As The Washington Post reported in August, fatalities in training exercises outnumber combat deaths 4 to 1. According to the Pentagon, training fatalities are down overall, but at least 15 service members have been killed in the past year. Those fatalities also represent an increase from last year.

Among the most recent deaths was in April, when Joshua Braica, 29, a Marine special operator, was killed in an accident at Camp Pendleton in California. A month later, Marine 1st Lt. H. Conor McDowell died in a rollover at the same base. Also in May, Marine Lance Cpl. Hans Sandoval-Pereyra, 21, was killed in Australia. In June, a Humvee accident in Alaska resulted in the death of Army Spc. Marquise Elliott, 25. Staff Sgt. Andrew Michael St. John, 29, was killed in a Humvee rollover in August at Fort Hood in Texas.

As The Post reported in August, the Government Accountability Office is expected to study the series of military fatalities.

The Pentagon also has implemented technical solutions aimed at improving training safety in vehicles, including anti-lock brakes and systems designed to reduce the risk of rollovers.

“I keep thinking, ‘Is anyone taking seriously what happened to my son?’ ” Alexandrina Braica, the mother of Joshua Braica, told The Post in August. “Did anyone say, ‘Okay, we had a fatality, let’s ensure this doesn’t happen again?’ ”

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