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Vehicle crash blamed in Feb. warehouse fatality

Sep. 4, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
89th APS mourns death of Airman
Col. Michael Minihan, 89th Airlift Wing commander, listens as an Air Force Commendation Medal citation for the late Senior Airman John E. King II, 89th Aerial Port Squadron aircraft services specialist, is read during a memorial service held Feb. 22 on Joint Base Andrews, Md. King passed away while on duty Feb. 17, leaving behind his wife, Airman 1st Class Natalee King, and his son, John James King III. (Staff Sgt. Perry Aston / Air Force)
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An airman who died while working in a Joint Base Andrews, Md., warehouse earlier this year was killed after being pinned between a vehicle and a wall, an accident investigation found.

Senior Airman John E. King II, 21, of Sarasota, Fla., was killed on Feb. 17. He was assigned to the 89th Aerial Port Squadron at Andrews.

“The [accident] report indicated that the airman driving the vehicle did not follow standard Air Force vehicle operating procedures and did not perform the proper corrective actions,” according to an Air Mobility Command news release on Wednesday. “Other factors include lack of communication between King and the driver when he went behind the vehicle.”

Investigators determined that the unnamed airman driving the Torero Quick-Turn Van did not realize that King had moved behind the vehicle before starting to back up, according to the investigation report, which is posted on the Air Force’s Freedom of Information Act website.

After accidentally hitting the emergency stop button, the airman restarted the vehicle and started to back up, the report says. He then looked over to where he thought King was standing, only to realize King wasn’t there.

Suddenly, he heard King, say, “Hey, whoa whoa stop,” the report says. The airman turned to see King was right behind the vehicle. Without turning around, the airman tried to hit the brake, but he missed the pedal with his foot. The airman turned around to find the pedal, but by the time he stopped, it was too late.

Emergency responders tried to revive King for about an hour before he was declared dead, the report says.

Under the rules, King should have always been visible to the driver and he should have told the driver he was moving before getting behind the vehicle, the report found. The driver also should not have started moving the vehicle until he saw King.

King posthumously received an Air Force commendation medal.

“The 89th, and all of Team Andrews are hurting after this tragic loss of life,” Brig. Gen. Mike Minihan, 89th Airlift Wing commander, said following the accident. “Our thoughts and prayers are with airman King's family, friends and coworkers; our Air Force is a family, and they will not go through this alone.”

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