Army investigators have determined the death of a Mexican paratrooper during a training exercise at Fort Bragg last summer was accidental.
Arturo Godinez-Valenzuela, 31, of Cajeme, Sonora, in northwest Mexico, was killed during the training jump on Sicily Drop Zone on July 14. The paratrooper had become disconnected from his parachute, according to an Army investigation.
“A U.S. Army medic on the ground near the incident location stated Staff Sgt. Godinez-Valenzuela appeared to become disconnected from his parachute about 40 to 50 feet above the ground,” according to the investigation.
The investigation, obtained by The Fayetteville Observer through the federal Freedom of Information Act, includes witness statements and a sketch of the drop zone.
Officials from the Mexican Army and from the Mexican Embassy in Raleigh did not return requests for comment Monday.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/5320886f-bd39-5776-82e8-77ad54326165.html
The death of a Fort Bragg soldier who was hit by a vehicle during training last fall was accidental, investigators have determined.
Sgt. Jalisha Vonshay Tucker, a 24-year-old parachute packer for 3rd Special Forces Group’s Support Battalion, was struck by a vehicle on Yadkin Road near Canopy Lane. She was doing physical training around 6:45 a.m. on Oct. 24 when the accident happened, Army officials have said.
Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, said special agents worked with the Fort Bragg Military Police Traffic Accident Investigation Section and Provost Marshal’s Office.
The investigation was completed Jan. 5, he said.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/5e29607b-c2d5-5a1a-96e3-6d5ff9db9f5b.html
Teammates could tell Master Sgt. Corey Hood was excited as he prepared to jump into the Chicago Air and Water Show last summer.
Hood, who had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan five times, had been a member of the Army's elite Golden Knights parachute team for about a year.
The Chicago show was the first time he'd be jumping with members of the Navy's Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs.
About 10 minutes before the demonstration jump, a Navy parachutist chatting with Hood said he was "excited for the jump and he was very alert."
But a series of air miscalculations and several near-misses and a high-speed, mid-air collision caused the 32-year-old parachutist to clip a building in the city and tumble 22 stories to his death.
Although the teams have been jumping together at the Chicago Air and Water Show for 10 years, neither team participating in the Aug. 15, 2015, show had previously worked with the other.
Army investigators said failure by both teams to assess specific risks for working together was among factors contributing to Hood's death.
Investigators reviewed video footage, witness statements and information from unit leadership to compile their report, which was obtained by The Fayetteville Observer through the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Read the story here:
About a week ago, a soldier was killed during an airborne operation on Fort Bragg.
I knew about two hours after the death - one of my best sources called to tell me about it. After that tip, more flooded in to my email and Twitter DM.
I really take pride in the fact that sources know they can trust me with secret information that hasn't been released yet because they know I will be responsible with the information.
I'd heard off the record the soldier who was killed was from the Mexican Army, which was on Fort Bragg training with American paratroopers. Unfortunately, the 82nd Airborne Division clammed up and would only confirm they were investigating an incident (I later learned it's because of all the bureaucratic layers they were dealing with).
A few days after "the incident," the division confirmed a fatality, but that's it.
I immediately went to the country courthouse and searched through death certificates - there it was.
I called the division as a courtesy to explain that I had the soldier's name and other identifiable info from his death certificate and that I was going to write a story for today's paper.
The public affairs officers were quite surprised I was able to get that information so quickly.
From my standpoint as a reporter, it was important to push for this information and advance the story because no one was saying anything and that makes way for rumors to spread. If Army officials won't release information, the next best thing is look for public records that are available.
Again, I was the only reporter in the country to obtain and report that information.
You can read my story here:
I received a tip about an 82nd Airborne Division soldier who had been found dead in her home.
Sadly, this is something we hear regularly enough and it's usually suicide. When I called over to the division's public affairs office, they wouldn't tell me very much, but said to definitely not treat it like a suicide.
I typed up a brief for the web - then even more tips came in via Twitter DM.
Over the next few days, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID) released the victim's name and the FBI would take over. A few more days passed and the FBI said they were looking for the victim's husband and he was charged with her murder.
I found it interesting that the FBI would publicly say someone is charged with murder, but not explain why.
I remembered death certificates are filed in the county where a person has died - and the medical examiner signs off on cause and manner of death. I went to the Cumberland County courthouse, searched the death records for the victims name and found that she was stabbed and beaten.
I was the only reporter in the country to obtain that information.
After I reported it, any other reporter that wrote about this case had to cite The Fayetteville Observer. Because the wanted man has connections to so many places across the country, stories of him were printed everywhere - and most cited my reporting.
You can read my story here:
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