Army Says Drowning Wasn't the Cause of Green Beret's Death, Retracting Prior Claim

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Staff Sgt. Micah E. Walker, of Peyton, Colo.
Staff Sgt. Micah E. Walker, of Peyton, Colo. (U.S. Army)

Investigators have ruled out drowning as the cause of death for a Green Beret who died while training Tuesday at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, Florida, contradicting the Army's first reports on the death.

Staff Sgt. Micah Walker, 31, of 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, at Fort Carson, Colorado, was taking part in dive training when he died at Naval Air Station Key West, the 1st Special Forces Command said in a release Thursday.

The Army Combat Readiness Center, which sent a team to investigate Walker's death, initially described the accident as a "drowning mishap" in a release Wednesday.

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On Friday, the Combat Readiness Center issued another release saying that was incorrect.

"While a comprehensive investigation of the incident continues, drowning has been ruled out as a cause of death," Michael Negard, head of public affairs for the Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, said in Friday's release.

It is unclear what other possible causes of death are still being investigated.

Walker, who was originally from Peyton, Colorado, is survived by his wife and three children.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children, his parents, and his teammates," group commander Col. Lucas VanAntwerp said in the Thursday release. "Micah was an exceptional Special Forces operator, a loving husband, and father. We grieve with the family and stand ready to honor Micah's service and his legacy."

The Army's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, or SWCS, said in a Wednesday release that Walker was a student in the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course, and was taking part in a strenuous conditioning exercise in the pool Tuesday.

During this exercise, which stresses students' hearts and lungs, Walker went below the water and did not come back up, according to the SWCS press release. Instructors immediately went in after him, but found him unresponsive, it adds.

A medical officer first tried to resuscitate him, according to the press release, and he was then taken to the emergency room at the Lower Keys Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Walker joined the Army in April 2017 and completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in January. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion at Fort Carson in March.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

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