A staff sergeant convicted of negligent homicide in the July death of a fellow airman during a training exercise at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, was sentenced Wednesday to reduction in rank and restriction to base for 60 days.
Gabriel Rosa of the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron was the driver of a Humvee that struck and killed Staff Sgt. Timothy Wright, an aeromedical evacuation technician.
In addition to the base restriction and reduction to senior airmen, Rosa must also forfeit two-thirds of his pay for one month.
Rosa is at least the second person to be held accountable in the July 17 death of Wright, who was killed on the final day of a four-day exercise.
In January, Col. Elizabeth Shaw was removed from command of the 43rd based on the findings of an accident investigation report and an Air Force Office of Special Investigations probe into the accident.
Col. Kenneth Moss, commander of the 43rd Airlift Group, referred a charge of negligent homicide against Rosa after reviewing the reports' findings and considering "recommendations from Rosa's chain of command, his legal adviser and consultation with Wright's family," according to a Pope Army Airfield news release.
The accident report, released Dec. 2, found that driver distraction combined with last-minute changes to the day's training events contributed to Wright's death.
The training, meant to prepare squadron members for future deployments and exercises, went too far, the report said. Initial plans called for two, separate real-life scenarios on the final day of training: an "attack" on the exercise compound in the morning and the "capture" of a squadron member in the afternoon.
But those two scenarios were combined into a single event in which some members of the squadron would try to negotiate for a hostage. Airmen would simulate the execution of the hostage if those negotiations failed.
The deviation proved deadly.
About 10:30 a.m., a Humvee rolled into the exercise compound carrying three "enemy combatants" and Wright as the "hostage," his mouth and hands loosely bound with duct tape.
When a brief attempt at negotiations failed, Wright was marched back to the Humvee and "executed" by the two other passengers.
Playing his part, Wright fell forward about five or 10 feet in front of the vehicle. He was struck by the Humvee, driven by Rosa, as it left the compound.
"To his family, friends and my unit, I cannot tell you how sorry I am," he said. "That day will haunt me for every day that I live."