Report: Death was an accident

Published 11:47 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

WILLIAMSBURG—The Navy has released more details surrounding the accidental death of a reservist from Franklin during a training exercise in June.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ronald Spivey, 53, with the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group, died June 21 from a gunshot wound to the chest during a weapons training exercise at Cheatham Annex, part of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station in Williamsburg.

According to the Navy, Spivey was switching a loaded 9mm pistol from one hand to the other when it slipped from his hands. The weapon was pointing at Spivey’s chest when he tried to regain control of it and it went off.

The details of the accident were contained in a report obtained by The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk through a Freedom of Information request by that newspaper.

Spivey was a member of the reserves for 24 years. He was deployed to Kuwait for seven months in 2005 as part of Navy Customs Battalion PAPA, and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for his support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In May 2008, he was affiliated with the Norfolk-based reserve detachment of NAVELSG’s Expeditionary Support Unit.

The Navy report said Spivey was an experienced shooter. In 2005, he qualified as a sharpshooter using a 9mm pistol and as a marksman on the M-16 rifle.

Spivey had served as postmaster for Newsoms since 1993. The Navy’s report said that Spivey was at his postmaster job the morning of the accident and reported to Cheatham Annex for weapons training in the afternoon.

The report said that Espinoza grabbed Spivey and set him down on the ground. Another sailor called 911, and a medic treated the wound. Firefighters from the Cheatham Annex Fire Department arrived but did not have advanced lifesaving training to handle the gunshot wound.

Spivey was taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News, where he was pronounced dead.

He died about an hour after the accident, the report said.