A vehicle rollover claimed the life of a U.S. soldier in South Korea on Nov. 6.
Spc. Nicholas C. Panipinto, 20, from Bradenton, Florida, died from injuries sustained when the Bradley Fighting Vehicle he was in overturned, according to an Eighth Army press release.
Panipinto was deployed to Camp Humphreys, near the western port city of Pyeongtaek, from his home base of Fort Hood, Texas, at the time of his death on post.
The young soldier was an infantryman assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team. His unit started its nine-month deployment to the Korean Peninsula in July.
Stars and Stripes first reported the incident, noting that five soldiers were inside the vehicle alongside Panipinto.
“All five went to the hospital,” Lt. Col. Ellis Gales, an Eighth Army spokesman, told Army Times. “Two were treated for injuries and released. The other two were seen for precautionary measures.”
Panipinto enlisted in the Army out of Tampa, Florida, in January 2018 and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being assigned to Fort Hood.
The incidents have led to new vehicle safety initiatives.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan McLane and I send our heartfelt condolences to family, friends and loved ones of Spc. Nicholas Panipinto,” Col. Kevin Capra, the brigade commander, said in a prepared statement accompanying the release.
“Nicholas was a dedicated and essential member of the Ghost Battalion and Greywolf Brigade. We are all deeply saddened by the loss and will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Capra said.
The unit is serving as the current rotational brigade combat team training in South Korea under 2nd Infantry Division.
Panipinto was a recipient of the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal, according to Gales.
The accident remains under investigation, Eighth Army officials said in the press release. Panipinto’s brigade plans to conduct a memorial ceremony on Friday for the deceased infantryman.
An Army Times report from July highlighted the spike in vehicle rollover deaths that occurred in fiscal year 2019.
The rollover fatalities sparked some changes in safety initiatives, according to Army officials, including a “lessons-learned” website for mishaps and exportable safety briefing products.
In an Army safety brief video published in mid-June, Grinston warned troops against driving vehicles they aren’t properly trained on.
Army motor vehicle mishaps are the number one killer of on-duty soldiers and inadequate unit driver training programs contribute to 68 percent of these mishaps, according to the video.