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U.S. Military Evacuates American Volunteers Injured in Honduras

By Capt. Alysia R. Harvey, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, Feb. 8, 2007 – U.S. military personnel here helped medically evacuate a group of American volunteers after a bus crash near the village of Mal Pais, Honduras, Feb. 6.

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U.S. military personnel from Soto Cano Air Base begin treating a patient involved in a vehicle crash in a remote area of Honduras on Feb. 6. Three people died in the accident and 10 were injured. They were members of a nonprofit organization in Georgia and are in Honduras on a volunteer mission providing manual labor and teaching Bible school in Olancho, Honduras. Photo by Spc. John Destromp, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Three people died and 10 others suffered head trauma, broken bones and other injuries when their vehicle rolled over in a remote part of Honduras, an hour and a half from Tegucigalpa.

U.S. military personnel from Soto Cano Air Base evacuated the injured volunteers the day of the accident. Joint Task Force Bravo launched a medical evacuation helicopter less than an hour after receiving the call for help. Most Honduran hospitals have limited medical evacuation capability, U.S. officials said.

JTF Bravo officials explained that the evacuation involved a dangerous helicopter insertion into mountainous terrain during bad weather. Due to the remoteness of the crash site, four U.S. helicopters were used to find the casualties and evacuate them to hospitals in La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa. The next day, troops from JTF Bravo moved eight victims originally taken to La Ceiba on to Tegucigalpa, where they were to receive further assistance from the U.S. Embassy.

The killed and injured volunteers were members of a 28-person team from four churches in Newnan and Cartersville, Ga. Their group is linked with the nonprofit organization Honduras Outreach, Inc., based in Decatur, Ga.

Joint Task Force Bravo is part of U.S. Southern Command's mission of protecting the southern approaches of the United States with an active defense against all threats. Part of achieving that mission relies on establishing regional partnerships and developing a military capability that can support security, stability, a functional judicial system and an institutional respect for human rights within these partners.

JTF Bravo is housed on Soto-Cano Air Base, a forward operating base in Honduras that supports a variety of missions, including counterdrug, search and rescue, disaster relief, and humanitarian assistance.

“We train to respond rapidly to events throughout Central America,” said U.S. Army Col. Christopher Hughes, Joint Task Force Bravo commander. “We are proud to have assisted in this mission because the chance to save lives and alleviate suffering is very important to us.

“We pray for the speedy recoveries of those who were injured in this unfortunate accident and extend our heartfelt condolences to the family members of those who lost their lives,” he added.

(Air Force Capt. Alysia R. Harvey is the Joint Task Force Bravo public affairs officer.)

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Joint Task Force Bravo

Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. military personnel steady a patient on a litter after a vehicle accident in a remote area of Honduras on Feb. 6. Three people died in the accident and 10 were injured. They were members of a non-profit organization in Georgia and are in Honduras on a volunteer mission providing manual labor and teaching Bible school in Olancho, Honduras. Photo by Spc. John Destromp, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. military personnel load a patient onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter after a vehicle accident in a remote area of Honduras on Feb. 6. Three people died in the accident and 10 were injured. They were members of a nonprofit organization in Georgia and are in Honduras on a volunteer mission providing manual labor and teaching Bible school in Olancho, Honduras. Photo by Spc. John Destromp, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. military personnel prepare to load a patient onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter Feb. 7 at Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras. The patient is one of 10 people injured when their vehicle rolled over in a remote area in northeastern Honduras the previous day. Three people died in the accident. Joint Task Force Bravo personnel medically evacuated the accident victims from a remote location soon after the accident. Troops from JTF Bravo then moved several of those injured to other medical care the following day. Photo by Capt. Alysia R. Harvey, USAF  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA U.S. Army soldier offers water to U.S. church volunteers injured in a crash in Honduras. U.S. military personnel from Soto Cano Air Base medically evacuated the patients from the remote crash site to a hospital in La Ceiba, Honduras, on Feb. 6 and moved them to a hospital in Tegucigalpa the next day. Photo by Capt. Alysia R. Harvey, USAF  
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