Local News

Cause of death for two children at Fort Bragg remains unclear

Posted September 16, 2010 4:17 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2010 11:16 p.m. EDT

— Army officials said Thursday that medical examiners were unable to determine what killed two children in military housing at Fort Bragg. The results bring the number of undetermined child deaths there to nine.

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, officials said.

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.

The initial investigation revealed no common factors in the deaths, Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigative Command, said during a news conference two weeks ago.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission is investigating whether Chinese drywall could be involved in the deaths.

Hurricane Katrina and a nationwide building boom led to a shortage of domestic drywall several years ago, prompting some builders to begin importing drywall from China. Many people later reported getting sick in homes with the imported drywall.

Investigators took samples last week from the home where the two infants died and a home in the Linden Oaks subdivision where a baby died in March. Results from the tests are expected back this fall.

Both homes were built by Picerne Military Housing after 2005.

Pearline Sculley lived in the Linen Oaks home when her 2-month old son died suddenly in 2007. The house is now unoccupied.

"The day he died he had blood running from his nose. He spit up vomit. Before he died, he had a really bad cold," Sculley said.

No amount of testing is enough, Sculley said.

"I want them to tear down that house and not move another family into it because no family deserves to go through that," she said.

Fort Bragg officials held a town hall meeting in the Linden Oaks area on Thursday to meet with the public. Families living in the area wanted answers about the unexplained baby deaths and wanted to know if they should be concerned about their current homes.

“Our issue here is there may be something at that set of quarters. We’re not putting anybody in there until we figure it out,” Brig. Gen. Michael Garrett said.

John Shay, of Picerne Military Housing, says he's committed to testing the homes for any problems.

Army officials plan two more town hall safety meetings. On Sept. 21, they will be at Murray Elementary and on Sept. 23 at Bowley Elementary, each located on Fort Bragg. The meetings start at 4 p.m.