Lakes High School sophomore dies at Fort Lewis


by Staff

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 1:36 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 24 at 2:23 PM

Video: Cause of Fort Lewis death still undetermined

FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Investigators have not yet said what caused a teenage girl to die early Sunday morning at the Fort Lewis barracks.

She was one of two 16-year-old girls who were found unresponsive after someone called 911 at 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

KING 5 News has confirmed the deceased girl was a sophomore at Lakes High School in Lakewood. She had dropped out in the fall and just re-enrolled this month.

The other teen was taken to Madigan Army Hospital for emergency medical care. She was reported in stable condition Tuesday.

The autopsy on the deceased teen is done, but no one can say what killed her. There were no signs of physical trauma to her body, so military medical examiners are awaiting toxicology results to determine a cause of death. That could take weeks.

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The Army is investigating what the girls were doing in the barracks and whether drugs or alcohol were involved, but the presence of the two civilian girls in the barracks at 3:30 a.m. is likely a violation of any of the units' barracks visitation policies. Civilians entering and leaving the base are supposed to be carefully tracked.

A Fort Lewis spokesperson says a soldier has been questioned, but not arrested.

A Fort Lewis spokesman said a soldier at the post was acquainted with one of the girls, but would not go into detail about the relationship.

Both girls are from the South Puget Sound area. The Army will not release the names of the girls because they are minors and civilians. The families of the two girls are not making any public statements and they do not want their daughter's names released

"It's a very tragic event and their being there is rather unusual and so we are looking at that we are reviewing our policies and our procedures already with regard to civilians being on post," said Joe Piek, Fort Lewis Public Affairs Officer.

Classmates of the girl who died say lots of students go to the base to party with soldiers.

Maranda Mackmer, a senior at Lakes High School, went to a barracks party when she was 14.

"I knew there'd be alcohol and there was like rooms full of alcohol," she said.

She went to make sure her friend was safe, and was glad she did because she says the soldiers encouraged them to drink.

"We ended up getting caught, because there was some 'staff duty.' They made us sign a paper saying the soldiers didn't hurt us and they bought us a taxi home," she said.

According to base policy, visitors to the barracks under the age of 18 must be with their parents or guardians. The military says they're investigating to see if that rule was broken this past weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.