Scots Solder's Death "Unforeseen"

13 November 2017, 17:26

Josh Hoole soldier

The sudden death of a gifted soldier during an Army fitness test was an "unforeseen tragedy" stemming from an underlying medical condition, an official report has concluded.

Corporal Josh Hoole, 26, of The Rifles, died in July last year in Brecon, Mid Wales, after collapsing while on pre-course training for the Platoon Sergeants' Battle Course.

A probe into the incident concluded the cause of his death was "within the definition of sudden arrhythmogenic death syndrome (SADS)" - a condition that affects the heart.

A panel found Cpl Hoole himself would not have known of his susceptibility to SADS and that it was reasonable for the Army not to have known about the problem.

While it has made a number of recommendations for the future, it stressed none of the areas examined directly contributed to, or aggravated, the soldier's death.

Cpl Hoole, from Ecclefechan, near Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, had been due to marry his fiancee this year.

He was taking part in a training session as part of a course which was described as "both mentally and physically demanding".

Cpl Hoole collapsed at about 6.30am on July 19, 2016, when temperatures later peaked at just above 30C (86F).

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) service inquiry (SI) into the death was carried out by the Defence Safety Authority, with the findings now made available.

The report has not revealed the exact cause of death but found it was "within the definition of SADS".

It found a combination of SADS trigger factors - exercise, heat, adrenaline levels and potentially an imbalance of blood salt levels - were "contributory to this accident" but concluded: "The SI found no aggravating factors in this accident."

Writing in the report, Lieutenant General Richard Felton said: "Cpl Hoole was a physically fit, determined and capable infantry soldier.

"He was experienced, with numerous operational deployments under his belt in his eight years of service and had a promising career ahead of him.

"His sudden death ... was an unforeseen tragedy."

The panel concluded the soldier did not die as a direct result of doing the annual fitness test (AFT).

"Cpl Hoole's medical condition might have manifested itself similarly at any time if what he was doing caused the trigger factors to prompt SADS," the report stated.

"Furthermore, despite the immediate and comprehensive emergency medical treatment Cpl Hoole received, it was not realistically possible to have saved his life once he had collapsed.

"The SI found that it was reasonable for the Army not to have known about Cpl Hoole's medical condition."

The panel said they believed Cpl Hoole did not know about his susceptibility to SADS and he had been passed as medically fit to attend the course only eight days earlier.

The panel has made a number of recommendations to address inconsistencies and shortfalls across the areas it examined but said: "It must be stressed that none of these were factors that directly contributed to, or aggravated Cpl Hoole's death."

Lt Gen Felton concluded: "Although doing the AFT did not directly cause Cpl Hoole's death, the loss of such a gifted and promising soldier was an unexpected tragedy.

"On behalf of the Defence Safety Authority, I offer my condolences to his family, friends and loved ones."