Article 32 Underway in Marine Recruit Drowning - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/04/05

Article 32 Underway in Marine Recruit Drowning

An Article 32 hearing--the military's version of a civilian grand jury investigation--is underway on Parris Island. Staff Sgt. Nadya Lopez, 26, is charged with negligent homicide in the death of Marine recruit Jason Tharp.

Tharp drowned in February while trying to tread water during basic training.

The hearing started early this morning with testimony from investigators and a number of drill instructors who were at the pool the day of Tharp's death.

"Nothing could come of it, there could be no recommendation made," said Maj. Ken White. But a recommendation could be made, "up to and including a general court-martial based upon witness testimony, evidence that is brought forth and the discretion ultimately of the commanding general here at Parris Island."

Staff Sgt. Lopez is facing a number of charges including negligent homicide, assault, and failure to obey orders in connection with Pvt. Tharp's death.

Tharp died on February 8, just a day after video was taken of a drill instructor shoving him.

According to testimony, the death happened while Staff. Sgt. Lopez was attempting to teach Tharp to float during water survival training. After investigators say Tharp went under the water several times, Lopez was instructed to take him out, but he became unconscious on the way.

Although a number of drill instructors testified Tharp screamed a number of times during the training, they say they didn't believe he was in any danger. In fact, many felt he wasn't trying hard enough.

The hearing will continue tomorrow.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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