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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA. — A series of missteps led to a deadly Humvee accident last May at Kentucky’s Fort Knox, a Navy investigation concludes.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan H. Kaloust of Massapequa, N.Y., was partially ejected and killed during the training exercise, which was conducted under “blacked out” conditions. That means the vehicle’s headlights were off and the sailors participating in the exercise were wearing night goggles.
The Virginian-Pilot reported today the incident prompted Naval Special Warfare Command to re-examine its safety requirements for Humvee training missions. The heavily redacted investigative report was obtained Friday by the Norfolk newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The report said the accident could have been prevented.
The Humvee was among three loaded with Navy SEALs from Virginia Beach during the training exercise along a remote gravel road.
The first two vehicles in the SEAL Team 2 training convoy made a hard left turn, blinding the third driver by the dust the Humvees kicked up. The driver of the third vehicle turned wide and the two right tires went off the gravel and onto the grass.
The driver didn’t know that the soft shoulder was about to slope hard away from the road.
Kaloust, who was positioned at the roof turret without wearing safety straps, was killed when the Humvee rolled. Other sailors who weren’t wearing seat belts were banged up but survived the wreck.
Among the report’s findings:
— Driving under blacked-out conditions was not included in the written training plan approved by command leadership. The technique is not listed as part of the tactical ground movement training program conducted at Fort Knox.
— The driver in the wrecked vehicle did not have the government-issued license required to operate Humvees. The license is issued after a six-hour course that includes classroom and hands-on training.
— The unit had not been trained how to respond to a rollover.
— An armored vehicle driven by SEALs rolled at roughly the same location prior to the May incident, and that information should have been made available.
— Under Naval Special Warfare policy, all nine inside the Humvee — including Kaloust — should have been belted in.
The Pilot said it’s unclear whether anyone was disciplined as a result of the crash.
Kaloust, 23, had graduated from basic SEAL training a few months earlier and based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek in Fort Story. He was preparing for his first deployment.
The Navy has used the 170-square-mile Fort Knox as a training ground since World War II. The Army post is about 50 miles southwest of Louisville and is home to about 14,000 military personnel, including active-duty members and reserves.