Fort Lee soldier identified; died after parachute training

Published: Mar. 4, 2010 at 6:19 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2010 at 5:37 PM EST
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By Melissa Correa - bio | email

PRINCE GEORGE, VA (WWBT) - Thursday morning winds helped carry a Fort Lee soldier away from his landing zone, slamming him into power lines. Less than an hour later he was pronounced dead.

His name is Private Anthony R. Milo, 24, of Colorado Springs, Co.  He was part of the 23rd Quartermaster Brigade. The parachute training was routine.

He arrived at Fort Lee on December 14, 2009 for training.  His position with the army was parachute rigger.  He was posthumously awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal.

Until the investigation is complete, there is a safety stand-down on training in the field until the investigation is complete.  Ft. Lee Commanding General will give the official call to resume training.

Any decisions on changing training procedures on the field will be determined pending the outcome of the investigation.

"It's actually for rigger school which is the ones that actually pack the parachutes," says Keith Desbois, spokesperson for Fort Lee.

Soldiers jumped out of a Blackhawk helicopter at 1,500 feet and were expected to land in a field which is surrounded by power lines and trees. An eyewitness reports seeing around 5-6 soldiers jump out of the helicopter.

The morning of the training, the National Weather Service reported sustained winds between 14-17 miles per hour, wind gusts were set to be much stronger.

At 10:25 a.m. a soldier drifted towards power lines.  An eyewitness says the parachute pack was around his waist, the cords were caught up in the top power line, with his arms and legs dangling below.

Ten minutes later Dominion Virginia Power arrived on scene -- cutting power to the lines. Fort Lee personnel cut the soldier from the chute and administered CPR until an ambulance arrived at 10:57 a.m.

Fort Lee says the soldier was alive when he was rushed to Southside Regional Hospital.  At 11:12 a.m. he was pronounced dead.

"There were a couple other parachuters that missed the landing zone and they ended up in the brush line," says Desbois.  "No other injuries have been reported so far."

A spokesperson for Fort Lee said the field has been used for decades and said there has never before been a fatal accident at the field.

Fort Lee is still investigating.  It's unclear if the field will continue to be used for parachute training.

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