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Report: Three Sailors Assigned to USS George Washington Commit Suicide in 7 Days

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A Virginia medical examiner has determined a sailor aboard the USS George Washington died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 15, marking the third suicide by a sailor assigned to the vessel in a week’s time, according to reports.

The Navy said Master-at-Arms Seaman Recruit Xavier Junter Mitchell-Sandor was discovered unresponsive aboard the George Washington on April 15, WSNI reported. The vessel’s medical team treated the sailor, who subsequently died after being transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center, the Navy said. Local Virginia newspaper the Daily Press noted that he enlisted in August.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia determined that Mitchell-Sandor fatally shot himself, USNI reported.

“A spokeswoman from U.S. Fleet Forces Command would not confirm to USNI News any of the details from the medical examiner about the incident, citing several ongoing investigations into a string of suicides aboard the carrier,” according to the outlet.

In communications with the outlet, a Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) spokesman would not verify if the gun used was a service-issued weapon, nor would he confirm if Mitchell-Sandor was on duty at the time of his death.

Spokesman Jeff Houston said in a statement:

NCIS is conducting a thorough investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the death of MASR Xavier Mitchell-Sandor, as we do in response to all non-combat, medically unattended fatalities of Department of the Navy service members. 

Mitchell-Sandor marks the third sailor assigned to USS Geroge Washington to commit suicide in the past month, USNI noted, citing the local medical examiner. 

On April 9, Retail Services Specialist 3rd Class Mika’il Sharp died by suicide, and the following day, Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Natasha Huffman took her own life, the medical examiner determined. 

In a statement obtained by the Daily Press, the Naval Air Force Atlantic confirmed seven servicemembers assigned to the vessel died over the past twelve months, including four in 2021.

The statement added: 

The circumstances surrounding these incidents vary and it is premature to make assumptions, as some incidents remain under investigation. The death of any sailor is one too many and we will thoroughly investigate these incidents to ensure we are providing the appropriate support and resources to sailors at sea and in the shipyards. 

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby also issued a statement on the sailors’ deaths but did not disclose the causes, WVEC reported

Regardless of how these sailors died, we don’t want to see any sailor harmed or hurt or lose their life, period, regardless of what the cause is. But, I can tell you the Navy is taking this very seriously. Navy leadership is taking this very seriously. And they’re looking at what has happened on the George Washington, trying to better understand it.

The vessel is docked at Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia where it is undergoing the final stages of a five-year-long maintenance effort, according to USNI. 

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