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Air Force reservist dies after PT test

Jul. 15, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
An Air Force reservist collapsed and later died Saturday as he was nearing the last lap of the run during his physical fitness test. (Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom / Air Force)
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Spofford (Airman 1st Class Ericka Engblom / Air Force)

An Air Force reservist collapsed and later died Saturday as he was nearing the last lap of the run during his physical fitness test.

Staff Sgt. Richard Spofford, a maintenance technician with the 315th Maintenance Group at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, had already completed the pushups, situps and waist measurement portion of his PT test early Saturday morning when he collapsed, 315th Airlift Wing chief of public affairs Maj. Wayne Capps told Air Force Times.

An ambulance transported Spofford to the Trident Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, Capps said. Spofford was 26 and had been in the Air Force for 7 ˝ years.

Capps said Spofford had completed the PT test, which includes a 1.5-mile run, “several times with the 315th” and was required to PT every six months with the group.

Airmen on active duty and in the Reserve are required to test every six months, unless they score above a 90 out of a possible 100 points. Those who score above 90 are required to test only once a year.

Capps said that the coroner’s office would release the cause of death in a couple weeks.

Spofford was a resident of North Charleston and had been a member of the 315th Airlift Wing since January 2013. He had come from Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, prior to his post with the 315th AW, Capps said.

A funeral was held July 16 at the base chapel with a burial with full military honors at Dorchester Memory Gardens in Summerville, the 315th Airlift Wing posted on its official Facebook page.

Spofford’s death is the 13th PT-related fatality in the Air Force since January 2010, said Darlene Cowsert, spokeswoman for the Air Force Safety Center, in an email to Air Force Times.

Seven of those deaths “were related to fitness assessments, and 6 were related to physical training,” according to a safety center report released by Cowsert. Eight of the 13 “were deemed not a safety mishap because medical authorities determined that pre-existing illnesses and/or death by natural causes were solely responsible,” the report said.

Spofford’s death remains under investigation, the report said.

This story was updated July 17, 2014.

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