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Army, Navy, Air Force Injury and Accident Compensation Cardiff - Veteran in wheelchair

Fatal heat illness not recognised

Posted in: Armed Forces Injuries Workplace Injuries Wrongful & Accidental Death 

After a soldier died following an intensive punishment exercise, an inquest has revealed that no clear risk assessment was carried out beforehand, which would have been enough to save his life. 22-year-old Pte Gavin Williams was ordered to carry out the informal punishment exercise for being absent without leave. On one of the hottest days of 2006, he was forced to undergo the gym exercise known as “beasting”.

Pte Williams, of Hengoed, Caerphilly County, collapsed at the Lucknow Barracks in Wiltshire shortly after the exercise. His superiors failed to recognise heat illness symptoms. When a doctor later examined him, after symptoms worsened, the illness was still not diagnosed, (despite the doctor diagnosing a soldier with the illness earlier that day). Hours later Pte Williams passed away.

Made to exercise for over an hour

Heat expert Dr Daniel Roiz De Sa highlighted the fact that the exercise was carried out when the hot weather risk was extremely high. Guidance suggests that he should not have been exercising for more than one hour in a 90-minute period. It was heard that he was made to exercise for well over an hour.

The post mortem found ecstasy in Pte Williams’ bloodstream, which suggests that he would have been dehydrated before the exercise.

Dr Roiz De Sa told the coroner, Judge Alan Large, that a “clear assessment of the risk” would have saved Pte Williams’ life.

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