Officials release investigation report on trainee's death

  • Published
The Air Force released a report of investigation June 7 into the death of an Air Force trainee, which occurred Oct. 19, 2011.

The report cited Airman 1st Class Steven D. Williams' cause of death as cardiac dysrhythmia, or abnormal rhythm.

Williams was in basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, when his death occurred. The autopsy report determined the cardiac dysrhythmia was a result of a vaso-occulsive crisis (sludging of red blood cells in the veins and arteries) due to a sickle cell crisis. Williams possessed a condition known as sickle cell trait, generally a benign condition that may sometimes be impacted by heat, physical exertion, hydration, and breathing factors such as altitude and levels of oxygen, officials said.

Williams died after he became unsteady and disoriented following the completion of his Air Force physical training progress check, which included a 1 1/2-mile run. He collapsed during a cool down lap after the run. Medical technicians on stand-by with the basic training flights provided basic-level emergency care. When Williams became unresponsive, medical technicians immediately initiated CPR. The Airman was transported by ambulance to Southwest General Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he received continued emergency care including advanced cardiac life support. He died later the same day.

Williams enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in Detroit, Michigan. He had completed seven weeks of the eight-week basic training program. Williams was recognized in basic training for his leadership and was assigned as his training flight's dormitory chief. He was posthumously awarded the rank of airman first class.

Col. Paul A. Bugenske, of the 17th Mission Support Group at Goodfellow AFB, Texas, was president of the ground accident investigation board.

(Courtesy of Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs.)