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Army says troops lost their way, went off cliff

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A Stryker armored vehicle leads a group of vehicles south on I-25 south in Colorado Springs, Colo. Investigators say an Army vehicle took the wrong road in the dark and was trying to make a U-turn when it tumbled 250 feet off a cliff at a Colorado training range in Feb. 2015, killing one soldier and injuring five.

DENVER >> An Army vehicle took the wrong road in the dark and was making a U-turn when it tumbled 250 feet off a cliff at a Colorado training range last year, killing one soldier and injuring five, according to a recently released investigative report.

The soldier who died had an unspecified medical condition at the time of the February 2015 crash at Fort Carson, and a physician assistant had recommended that he not go on the training exercise, investigators said.

It wasn’t clear from the report whether Staff Sgt. Justin Holt’s condition was a factor in his death or in the crash of the Stryker fighting vehicle. He was the commander of the vehicle but wasn’t driving, the report said.

The Army provided the report to The Associated Press Monday, more than a year after the AP requested it under the Freedom of Information Act. Previously, the Army had released few details other than Holt’s identity.

Holt, of Bogata, Texas, had not been sleeping well because of shoulder pain, the report said, but investigators didn’t say if that was related to his medical condition. He suffered multiple blunt force trauma to his head, chest and torso in the crash, investigators said.

The report said an unidentified Army captain had allowed Holt to participate in the exercise against the advice of the physician assistant and a squadron commander.

The Army hasn’t released the names of the five survivors, who all held the rank of specialist. One suffered multiple fractures in his upper spine and was permanently disabled, the report said. The driver had a broken leg, and three soldiers suffered cuts and bruises.

One of the survivors was wearing a seat belt but the others were not, the report said. One soldier told investigators Holt accidentally released his seat belt as the Stryker began to roll.

Holt and his team were returning to a remote camp on the 219-square-mile post shortly before 9 p.m. on Feb. 6 after a training exercise had ended. A soldier in another Stryker alerted them that they had made a wrong turn, the report said.

Holt told his driver to turn around. The driver told investigators he then began a left turn at about 5 to 10 mph when the Stryker drove off the cliff.

The driver said the vehicle had white lights on, but it wasn’t clear from the report if they were headlights.

The Stryker rolled and tumbled down a steep, rocky slope studded with trees. Holt and the driver were ejected, the report said. Leaking fuel started a fire, but the survivors and rescuers put it out.

It wasn’t clear what action commanders took after the incident. Eight pages of findings and recommendations were redacted, as were sections on mistakes made.

The Army initially said six soldiers were injured and that the Stryker rolled 100 feet, but the report said five were hurt and the vehicle tumbled 250 feet. A Fort Carson spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking clarification.

One response to “Army says troops lost their way, went off cliff”

  1. cojef says:

    Well isn’t the Army slowly deactivating the Stryker units in favor of attack helicopters? Thus the redacting is puzzling.

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