Drugs suspected as Navy sailors die days apart at same home
By RUSS BYNUM
Oct. 18, 2017
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Investigators suspect drug overdoses killed two Navy submarine sailors whose bodies were found in the same coastal Georgia house four days apart, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman said Wednesday.
Navy criminal investigators and civilian police are awaiting results of toxicology tests following the strange back-to-back deaths at an off-base home near Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, said Cmdr. Sarah Self-Kyler, a spokeswoman for the Navy's Submarine Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia.
"It is our understanding from the initial reports that it is an apparent drug overdose for both sailors," Self-Kyler said in an interview Wednesday.
Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Jerrell was found dead Oct. 12 on the floor inside a friend's house in Kingsland, located near the Georgia-Florida state line about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Savannah. Friends had gone looking for Jerrell after the sailor's wife reported him missing, Self-Kyler said.
Jerrell's body was found in the home of Petty Officer 2nd Class Ty Bell. When Bell, 25, failed to report for duty at Kings Bay on Monday, concerned shipmates went to the house, Self-Kyler said. Inside, they discovered Bell was dead.
A spokesman for Kingsland police, the agency leading the investigation, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.
Citing police reports filed in the deaths, news organizations reported Jerrell and his family were visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, when the sailor told his wife he was going back to their hotel because he felt ill. He was gone when the family returned to the hotel, and Jerrell's wife reported him missing. That was Oct. 11, the day before he was found dead.
The police report on Bell's death said the sailor had a "white foamy substance" coming from his nose when his body was discovered, news outlets reported.
Kings Bay is the East Coast base for the Navy's nuclear-armed submarines. Jerrell was assigned to a training facility on the base, while Bell was a crew member on the submarine USS Wyoming. Both sailors were sonar technicians who had become friends during a previous assignment under a different command, Self-Kyler said.
"We in the Navy are taking this very seriously," Self-Kyler said. "This is shocking news and something we're concerned about."
She said all sailors at Kings Bay were ordered to take drug tests as a result of the deaths.