Eleven soldiers at Fort Bliss in Texas remain hospitalized after they drank antifreeze, believing it was alcohol, military officials said.
Initial tests showed the soldiers underwent ethylene glycol poisoning after ingesting the antifreeze during a 10-day training exercise, Lt. Col. Allie Payne, a representative from the First Armored Division at Fort Bliss, said at a news conference.
Colonel Payne declined to discuss the tragic event in detail; she said the incident remains under investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
Maj. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, the First Armored Division and Fort Bliss’s senior mission commander, has also ordered an administrative investigation.
According to Payne, the army prohibits soldiers from consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty or training.
Soldiers In Stable Condition After Ingesting Poison
On Friday, the William Beaumont Army Medical Center admitted two soldiers. They were in critical condition but have since shown improvement, Colonel Payne said.
The nine other soldiers involved are in stable condition and could be discharged soon, she said.
“Our primary concern remains the well-being of our soldiers, our families and the unit,” Colonel Payne said.
It’s unclear how much antifreeze the soldiers drank, Colonel Payne said, adding that the “personnel believed that they were consuming an alcoholic beverage.”
Drinking large amounts of antifreeze can cause a total shutdown of a person’s organs, said Col. Shawna Scully, the deputy commander of medical services at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, at the news conference.
She also said, consuming the substance in smaller quantities can cause nausea, agitation, and confusion. In addition, those who consume small amounts may not experience any symptoms, Colonel Scully said.
“We took immediate action to treat everyone involved with the best medical care available,” General Bernabe said in a statement.
“Our commitment to soldiers and families remains our No. 1 priority as we work to understand what occurred Jan. 28.”
The deadly chemical in antifreeze is clear, colorless, and is a hazardous liquid at room temperature. When used in antifreeze, people usually add fluorescent coloring such as yellow or green for classification purposes.