Local News

OSHA launches investigation after death during Fort Bragg drill

Posted June 23, 2010 10:32 a.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2010 6:00 p.m. EDT

— The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched an investigation into the death of a contractor killed during a live fire drill at Fort Bragg, officials said Wednesday.

An employee of Echota Technologies Corp., which helps Army personnel operate tactical ranges on post, was shot in the incident at Range 77 on Tuesday. The contractor died at Womack Army Medical Center.

A second range control contractor with Tennessee-based Echota was shot and wounded and was flown to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He has been released from the hospital, the company said Wednesday.

The company did not release the contractors' names.

A bullet grazed the arm of a soldier who is a student at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg. He was treated at Womack Army Medical Center.

"We have a whole variety of safety measures in place, but obviously, something out of the ordinary happened," Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum said Tuesday.

Soldiers on Range 77 were taking part in small-unit tactics to help prepare units for overseas missions, McCollum said.

"They're done under as realistic conditions as possible. Therefore, live ammunition was used," he said.

About 150 soldiers were at the range for training, but only 15 were shooting at the time, Major David Butler said Wednesday. Soldiers first do a dry fire, which doesn't involve bullets or blanks. They then move to blanks and finally to live ammunition.

The Army investigation started Tuesday, and the OSHA launched its own investigation Wednesday, according to Suzanne Street, OSHA's area director in Raleigh.

The agency, which oversees job safety regulations, is looking into the accident because the contractor was employed by a company in the private sector.

"We're going to trying to figure out what happened and if there are any violations and make recommendations to prevent it from happening in the future," Street said.

Echota Chief Operations Officer Mark Boyatt said the company is cooperating with the investigations.

"We are taking all measure to support the families while respecting their privacy," he said.

Boyatt says his employees do not carry weapons and only provide range maintenance and support.

"Our focus is on our Echota families. Our whole Echota team offers our sincerest condolences and prayers and continued support to the family through this tragic period," company president and owner Randall said.