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Fort Bliss Soldiers Hospitalized After Drinking Antifreeze

Soldiers lie on the ground during an exercise at Fort Bliss.
Staff Sgt. Michael West/2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team,
Soldiers with 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division qualify on their individually assigned weapons at the Dona Ana Range Complex, Fort Bliss, New Mexico, May 27, 2020. The brigade is gearing up for an operational deployment in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

The Army has launched a criminal investigation after eleven Fort Bliss soldiers were hospitalized suffering from antifreeze poisoning. The soldiers are recovering at William Beaumont Army Medical center. They were sickened at the end of a 10-day field training exercise at McGregor Range.

“Initial reports indicate soldiers consumed this substance, thinking they were drinking alcoholic beverage,” said Lt. Col. Allie Payne, a Fort Bliss spokeswoman for the 1st Armored Division during a news conference Friday afternoon.

“Army and Fort Bliss regulations prohibit the consumption of alcohol in a field training environment. Initial toxicology results indicate the Soldiers are experiencing ethylene glycol poisoning,”

Commonly known as antifreeze, ethylene glycol can be deadly. The soldiers were hospitalized Thursday. “Typically substances along the line of ethylene glycol can generate immediate damage to the kidneys and then if the ingestion is significant enough, high enough doses, it can ultimately lead to organ failure,” said Col. Shawna Scully, deputy commander of medical services at William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

Two soldiers are in intensive care. The others are in guarded condition. They are assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32d Army Air and Missile Defense Command, an active-duty unit stationed at Fort Bliss.

“Thankfully all eleven soldiers who were admitted to our facility, two in critical condition and the rest in guarded condition have shown signs of significant improvement overnight,” said Scully.

Four of the soldiers were scheduled to be released from the hospital and sent home to their families.

“We took immediate action to treat everyone involved with the best medical care available,” said Maj. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, senior mission commander of 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss. “Our commitment to our soldiers and families remains our number one priority as we work to understand what occurred Jan. 28,” Bernabe said in a statement released by Fort Bliss early Thursday before the news conference.