Air Force report: Airmen in fatal Kuwaiti accident were not wearing helmets, seatbelts

Flowers and messages cover Senior Airman Jason Phan’s vehicle in the long-term parking lot at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Sept. 16. Phan, a 66th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, was killed in a non-combat related accident while serving overseas, Sept. 12. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)
Flowers and messages cover Senior Airman Jason Phan’s vehicle in the long-term parking lot at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Sept. 16. Phan, a 66th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, was killed in a non-combat related accident while serving overseas, Sept. 12. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

AFMC releases findings of fatal accident in Kuwait

An Air Force Materiel Command investigation found that none of the Airmen involved in a fatal vehicle crash in Kuwait last September were wearing helmets or seatbelts, and the combat locks were not engaged at the time of the crash.

“It is a tragedy anytime we lose an Airman, and this accident highlights the dangers our members who serve face daily in the defense of our nation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Senior Airman Phan’s family and friends,” Maj. Gen. Maureen Banavige, Ground Accident Investigation Board president, said in a statement issued from Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) Monday.

AFMC released findings of the Ground Accident Investigation Board which examined the vehicle accident that claimed the life of a deployed AFMC security forces member in Kuwait on Sept. 12, 2020.

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Senior Airman Jason Khai Phan, 26, died during the rollover mishap of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV).  He was a security forces member forward deployed from the 66th Security Forces Squadron at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.  Two other Security Forces Airmen in the vehicle were injured.

The vehicle appeared to be operating normally, the AFMC release said.

AFMC is based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The incident took place when three Airmen defenders from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron were approaching the end of a 12-hour patrol in a defensive zone outside the fenced perimeter of Ali Al Salem Air Base, the primary airlift hub and gateway for delivering combat power to joint and coalition forces in the U.S. Central Command Area of responsibility, according to AFMC’s account of the incident.

The three Airmen were traveling aboard the M-ATV on a hard-packed sand and rock road when the driver felt the vehicle pull to the right, as the right wheels appeared to be getting stuck in the sand, the command said. While compensating, the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled over coming to rest on its side, the command said.

“Phan was ejected from his rear left seat behind the driver and sustained immediate fatal injuries,” AFMC said. “The  M-ATV driver and the truck commander were treated for non-life threatening injuries at the Camp Arifjan Army regional medical facility and released.”

The GAIB report is available online at https://www.afjag.af.mil/AIB-Reports/.

Phan hailed from Anaheim, California, the Air Force Times reported last year. He was single with no children.

“He came to this country with big dreams and aspirations and truly worked to obtain all of his goals,” Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Souheaver, a 66 SFS defender, who served directly with Phan, said in a release from Hanscomb last September. “He never stopped believing and pushing to achieve what a lot of people never attempt to do.”

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