Accident investigation finds civilian employee died of decompression sickness

  • Published
  • By Headquarters Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
  • Headquarters Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

Air Mobility Command released the results of its investigation into an aircraft incident which resulted in the death of a civilian employee of the Missile Defense Agency at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska on Aug. 22, 2023.

A 33-year-old civilian employee of the Missile Defense Agency died Aug. 22, 2023, one day after experiencing symptoms consistent with decompression sickness while onboard a Joint Base Charleston-based C-17 aircraft while it was conducting testing in Alaska.

The employee, whose name has not been released out of respect to his family, was performing duties inherent to his role in the back of the aircraft following a test drop when he developed symptoms consistent with decompression sickness. Onboard physiological technicians responded to the individual and aircrew arranged for follow-on treatment upon landing at JBER.

Despite intervention efforts by qualified medical personnel, the individual’s health continued to deteriorate upon arrival at the JBER emergency room, and the individual went into cardiac arrest prior to being transported to a higher echelon of care.

The accident board, led by Brig. Gen. Derek Salmi, determined, based on the preponderance of the evidence, that the mishap was the result of decompression sickness induced by the high altitude, unpressurized portion of the test complicated by the employee’s pre-existing, underlying medical conditions.

Click here to read the full version of the investigation report.

For more information, contact Air Mobility Command Public Affairs at (618) 229-7843 or (618) 570-6875