11 Fort Bliss soldiers injured after ingesting antifreeze they believed was alcohol

Military

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that only two of the soldiers remain in critical status.

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Eleven Fort Bliss soldiers are under medical care on Friday morning after drinking ethlyne glycol, otherwise known as antifreeze, believing it was alcohol at the end of a 10-day training exercise Thursday.

According to Fort Bliss officials, the 11 soldiers — including two who were in serious condition — were being treated at William Beaumont Army Medical Center, where they have been since Thursday afternoon, Fort Bliss said. Two soldiers had needed critical care, but their conditions were upgraded.

One of the soldiers had to be intubated but no longer needs breathing assistance, Lt. Col. Allie Payne, public affairs officer for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, said in a press conference. Up to four soldiers were expected to be released from the hospital soon.

It’s unclear why the soldiers thought what they were drinking was alcohol.

Drinking alcohol is prohibited for Army personnel who are on duty, including while in a training environment, Payne said. It’s unclear what type of disciplinary action the soldiers might face if they did consume alcohol while on duty.

Ethylene glycol is a clear, colorless and viscous liquid at room temperature. When used in antifreeze, fluorescent coloring such as yellow or green is typically added. The effects of ingesting the compound can range from euphoria to headaches and nausea or organ failure.

The 11 soldiers who became ill are assigned to the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Payne said, and no other soldiers appear to be affected.

“We took immediate action to treat everyone involved with the best medical care available,” Maj. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, senior mission commander of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, said in a statement to the media. “Our leaders are engaged at every level to provide guidance, information and care for their teammates. Our commitment to our soldiers and families remains our No. 1 priority as we work to understand what occurred Jan. 28.”

The unit was completing a field training exercise on Thursday when the incident occurred, according to a news release.

An investigation into the incident was opened by officials.

Fort Bliss leaders said they are updating the soldiers’ families and unit members, as well as cooperating with law enforcement, who are investigating the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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