Local News

Seymour Johnson airman dies from methane gas poisoning

Posted July 13, 2018 9:03 p.m. EDT

— A Seymour Johnson Air Force Base airman died Thursday following exposure to methane gas while working in the Middle East, officials said Friday.

Staff Sgt. James Tyler Grotjan, who was assigned to the 4th Civil Engineering Squadron, was working at the Al Dhafra Air Base in United Arab Emirates on Sunday when the accident occurred, officials said.

Although the Air Force said only that Grotjan was injured in a non-combat incident, his father, Randy Grotjan, shared a Facebook post providing details of the incident.

Tyler Grotjan was working underground in a manhole when he was exposed to a methane gas leak, according to the Facebook post. He tried to climb out but fell unconscious back inside the manhole and spent a few days on life support at the Landsthul Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Randy Grotjan posted on Facebook that he and family members traveled to Germany on Thursday, but his son died within hours of their arrival.

"This is was a tragic event, and our thoughts are with the family, friends and teammates of James," Col. Donn Yates, 4th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement. "He was an integral part of our team, and our hearts are heavy with his loss."