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Soldier dies during exercise in Guatemala

Apr. 23, 2014 - 04:10PM   |  
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A soldier from the 56th Signal Battalion died Tuesday in Guatemala while participating in an exercise called Beyond the Horizon.

The soldier was stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. His name will not be released until his family is notified, said Lt. Col. Carol McClelland, a spokeswoman for Army South.

Army South plans and leads Beyond the Horizon, an annual humanitarian and civic assistance exercise.

The incident happened in Las Limones, which is about a two-hour drive from Guatemala City.

A large tree branch fell on a group of soldiers working on an engineer project. The soldier from the 56th Signal Battalion was killed and three others were injured.

The soldiers, accompanied by a physician from the unit, were evacuated by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter to Mega Medica Hospital in Zacapa, Guatemala.

The injured soldiers suffered “non-life-threatening” injuries, McClelland said. She did not have information on the extent of their injuries, or whether they were planning to stay and complete the exercise or return to the United States.

A similar incident happened just two years ago, also during Beyond the Horizon in Guatemala.

Staff Sgt. Robert Traxel, of the Missouri National Guard, died July 2, 2012, from injuries sustained after he was hit in the head by a tree limb that fell because of wind generated by helicopter rotor blades during the training exercise.

Beyond the Horizon, sponsored by Southern Command and led by Army South, provides construction and medical assistance to partner nations throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean region.

The annual exercise lasts for several months, with units rotating in and out, typically for two or three weeks at a time.

Five construction projects were planned for Beyond the Horizon in Guatemala, McClelland said.

This year’s exercise in Guatemala began March 15 and is slated to run through June 27, she said.

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