No evidence has been uncovered to indicate a collision that killed two recruits and injured six others on Fort Jackson last week was intentional or involved any off-post people, an Army spokesman said Wednesday.
An Army accident investigation team from Fort Rucker in Alabama has arrived to lead the crash investigation, which could take six months to a year to complete and release, spokesman Chris Fletcher said.
“This is all part of the investigation,” Fletcher told The State newspaper when asked if the driver intentionally crashed into a company of soldier trainees or if the collision involved people outside the Army. “It’s too early to state definitively. But there seems to be no evidence leading that direction.”
Fletcher provided new details of Friday’s 3:30 p.m. collision that involved a large covered pickup truck, known as a non-tactical utility vehicle, that was pulling a “water buffalo” tank. Such tanks, which can be large, supply water to troops in the field. The truck is used as a troop transport vehicle.
Until Wednesday, post officials had provided only general information about the five-day-old crash.
The vehicles slammed into the recruits – who were heavily outfitted in their gear – from behind, Fletcher said. They were marching back to their barracks after a day of training.
On Wednesday, two recruits remained in the hospital. Emmett Foreman, who had been listed in critical condition, has been upgraded to serious, said Tammie Epps, a spokeswoman for Palmetto Health Richland hospital. Hannah New remained in fair condition, Epps said in an email.
The company was in a “tactical road march” along the shoulder of Dixie Road near Range 4, a small-arms firing range, Fletcher said. They were in the vicinity of the Percival Road gate. Only recruits were hurt.
Fletcher would not identify the company. He said he did not know if the water tanker was there to supply that company or was delivering water to other soldiers.
The vehicle was being driven by a soldier, but the spokesman would not say if any disciplinary action has been taken.
Investigative teams from the Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker examine all accidents involving Army vehicles, including collisions that might have Army-wide implications.
Fletcher said it’s too early to determine whether Friday’s collision has implications beyond Fort Jackson, which is the Army’s largest basic training base.
Investigators usually take three to six months to issue their preliminary findings, which are reviewed by post leaders. A final report can be released, usually within a year of the accident, the spokesman said.