Final report on drowning of Parris Island recruit to be released Tues. - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Final report on drowning of Parris Island recruit to be released Tues.

(Sutton, W.Va.) June 27, 2005 - The small town of Sutton has a few gas stations, some fast food restaurants, even a few small shops, but really that's about it for miles and miles. Jason Tharp grew up in the area and his parents still live there.

Three Marines from Parris Island, including a colonel, came to the Tharp home on Monday to deliver the final results of the investigation into Jason's death. They stayed for about three hours answering all kinds of questions

The Marines wait 24 hours after notifying the family until they release the report to the public.

Tharp left for Parris Island the week after Christmas. The 19-year-old high school grad and Wendy's part-time employee hadn't spent much time outside his small West Virginia town. He told his parents he wanted to go to college, but didn't want to be a burden.

Joining the Marines was his way out.

He had trouble at boot camp from the start. He sent seven letters home in five weeks pleading to his parents for their help to get him out.

On day 30 at 2:30 in the afternoon, Jason was supposed to be retaking the swim test. He had already failed it before, but instead, he was on the deck of the pool with the senior drill instructor and the swim instructor told WIS at the time, Jason was refusing to train.

On February 7th, WIS taped Jason Tharp and his drill instructor in a tense interaction. The video was shot the day before the 19-year-old drowned in a Parris Island pool.

The Marines say he got into the water voluntarily that day. Eight Marines, the five in the tape and Jason's three drill instructors, have been suspended on suspicion of violating physical conduct rules. It's not clear whether all of those suspensions relate to jason or other recruits.

A Beaufort County coroner autopsy report released last week revealed Jason was working with a swim instructor in the pool at the time. He was attempting to tread water and told instructor he could not "do it." Several times, Jason had his head underwater while in the pool, but according to the report, his head was not underwater for more than a few seconds.

The swim instructor began to pull Jason from the pool. At that point, Jason was lucid, but couldn't respond verbally. He suddenly became unresponsive and was pulled from the water, but by that time, he wasn't breathing.

He had a faint pulse. CPR was started, but failed.

According to an independent pathologist who examined the report for WIS, the autopsy showed evidence suggestive of bronchiolopspasms. That means some small air sacks in Jason's lungs began to clamp down in response to the drowning, preventing his lungs from getting any air.

CPR or intubation wouldn't have saved Jason, which is something paramedics likely wouldn't have known that at the time.

A toxicology report found only cold medicine in Jason's system, no other drugs. In his letters home to his parents, Jason feared he had pneumonia. The coroner's report found no evidence of that.

The report concludes the drowning was an accident, but that's not the final word on what happened that day.

The final report will be released to the press on Tuesday morning.

Reported by Heather Brown
Updated 7:44pm by BrettWitt

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