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Mother wants answers to baby deaths at Fort Bragg

Posted September 21, 2010

— Fort Bragg officials met Tuesday with families to discuss the investigation into a string of unexplained infant deaths in military housing on post.

The meeting at Murray Elementary School on post was the second in the past week to address concerns about the infant deaths.

Ten children, ages 2 weeks to 8 months, have died in military housing on post since the beginning of 2007. Two of the deaths occurred in the same home in a three-month period last year.

One of the deaths has been attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but the cause of death in the other nine cases is undetermined, officials said. No foul play is suspected in any of the deaths.

Melissa Pollard said the lack of answers is frustrating.

"I want the truth. I just want to know why my son could not be here right now," she said.

Pollard's 2-month-old son, Jay'Vair, died in April 2009 after weeks of illness.

"He was congested, snotty, coughing, vomiting (and) just wouldn't keep anything down," she said, noting he got better after spending a few days in a hospital.

"When he came back home, it started back up," she said.

Medical examiners initially said Jay'Vair died of SIDS, but they now say they cannot determine a cause of death.

In July 2009, Pollard's brother, his fiancee and their young daughter, Ka'Mya, came to visit. During their stay, the 7-month-old girl died.

"I got four blocks away, and Bianca calls me screaming, 'Ka'Mya's dead! Ka'Mya's not breathing!" Pollard said.

Again, the cause of death was undetermined. Within two days, the family had moved out of the house.

Fort Bragg Sign Bragg officials have found no connections in baby deaths

"It destroyed me. I thought I had done something wrong," Pollard said. "I was afraid to keep my kids because I was the one taking care of them. I was the one responsible for them, and there was nothing I could do."

She said she is certain something toxic was inside the house, but officials haven't been able to pinpoint any environmental problem.

The Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology are assisting Fort Bragg officials to determine if faulty construction or environmental factors played a role in any of the deaths. Officials said the initial investigation revealed no common factors in the deaths.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is conducting its own investigation into whether Chinese drywall could be involved. Many people nationwide have reported getting sick in homes with the imported drywall in recent years.

CPSC investigators are expected in the coming weeks to take samples from Pollard's former home and a home in the Linden Oaks subdivision where a baby died in March. Results from the tests are expected back this fall.

Army investigators said their final test results won't come back until February.

Managers with Picerne Military Housing, which builds and maintains housing on Fort Bragg, say at least 70 families have asked for tests of their on-post housing to see if their homes are safe.

They said they have tested air quality and building materials for issues like Chinese drywall and mold, and all tests came back negative.

Pollard said Army investigators have kept all of Jay'Vair's possessions for testing, including his pacifier and the clothing he wore and the blanket he slept on the night he died.

"I had thought I had nothing to fear, but then, in 90 days, I lost both my son and my niece," she said.

Fort Bragg officials plan to hold another town hall meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday at Bowley Elementary School on post.


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  • uncw05 Sep 22, 2010

    Rev- there are plenty of things that can get into water that are still going to be harmful after boiling.

  • Adelinthe Sep 21, 2010

    Math is not my high spot...

    6x12x2 = 144.


    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Sep 21, 2010

    jondzemo -

    And by the way, my nephew who is at Pendleton now, also served in Oki and was stationed for a short time for training at Geiger.

    During boot camp at PI, the majority of the members of his platoon experienced severe (almost fatal) cellulitis and septicemia from being marched through red ants nests.

    It was an accident, but they suffered greatly from their wounds. The ants were up to their belts before they even knew what was biting them.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Sep 21, 2010

    jondzemo - SEMPER FI!!!

    Amen to all you said.

    When I served, even at Quantico, supposedly one of the primo duty stations, there were 6 of us in a 10x20 room with NO bathroom. There were 12 of these rooms to a squad bay. Each floor had two squad bays, totalling 120 Marines.

    There was a common 12 stall bathroom and 24 stall shower room, as well as a 6 unit laundry room between two squad bays that accommodated these 120 Marines.

    It was awful.

    And that was common for most military bases when I served from 1969-72.

    Our service men and women deserve better, and their families certainly do for sure...especially their children.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Sep 21, 2010

    waterwarrior8 - "Has anyone checked the water? If yes, what agency did the tests and what were the results?":

    Camp Lejeune had benzene tainted water for decades, tainted by an off-base dry cleaner, and the base leaders all knew it and did nothing for years and years.

    But these children are too young to be using unboiled water.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Sep 21, 2010

    I don't blame this woman. I'd want the same thing. I'd want independent testers and researchers to come in to do the testing, not military or government.

    Praying they find the answers and no one else is endangered in sub-standard military housing anywhere in the world.

    They deserve better, much better.

    God bless.


  • shortcake53 Sep 21, 2010

    I sincerely hope these families get the answers they need. Bless the little ones.

  • jondzemo Sep 21, 2010

    As a former Marine I only know to well the problems of housing and facilities that we were made to use. I was deployed to Okinawa in 1998 for 6 months. The chow hall we where assigned to on Camp Schwab was posted has to have been torn down 3 years proir to us using it. It had major infestation problems. Every month it would be shut down for a week to be bombed than reopened. I spent the few peanuts I was paid and eat elsewheres the whole deployment. When I was at basic infantry training on Camp Geiger we were put into small wooden huts made during World War II. Luckly we were in them for only a week until our class picked up. We were given the worst, the cheapest, the worn out and used housing I had ever seen in my life while I was in the Marine Corp. The average enlisted Marine lives with 2 other Marines in room 10 by 20 with one closet sized bathroom. The fault is the military system and the taxpayers. How much are you willing to give? I know what we gave!

  • waterwarrior8 Sep 21, 2010

    OK, if all tests have come back negative then what could possibly be another common denominator? Has anyone checked the water? If yes, what agency did the tests and what were the results?

  • Nunya123 Sep 21, 2010

    So in over 3 years there have been 10 deaths (3.3 per year if it were exactly 3 years and not nearly 4). How many births were there during these 3 years? Infant mortality is 6.7 for every 1000 live births in the US. Is this significantly higher here or just a made up news story to again try to shame the Ft Bragg/military community?