The Military Army Blog

Female Army recruit who collapsed and died during one-mile run just three days into her training ‘may have suffered medical condition’

  • Megan Park collapsed during Army training at centre in Pirbright, Surrey
  • The 21-year-old is believed to have been on a timed mile-long run or march
  • Appears she died from natural causes or medical condition, it is claimed
  • Her family paid tribute last night, saying she had died doing her ‘dream job’

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The female Army recruit who died during basic training might have suffered from a medical condition, it has been reported. Megan Park is understood to have collapsed during an exercise – believed to be a timed mile-long march or run – at the Army Training Centre in Pirbright, Surrey, on Wednesday. The 21-year-old from Blackburn, Lancashire, had only started at the centre on Monday, her grandfather said today.

Tragic: Army recruit Megan Park, 21, pictured, is understood to have collapsed during an exercise – believed to be a timed mile-long march or run – at the Army Training Centre in Pirbright, Surrey, on Wednesday

Initial reports suggested Ms Park had completed a gruelling two-day exercise. But the claims have since been dismissed by her family and the Army, who said it was ‘something quite minor’. An investigation into her death has been launched but sources told the Telegraph[1] that it appears Ms Park died from natural causes or a medical condition. Last night, her family paid tribute to the aspiring soldier, saying she had died doing her ‘dream job’.

Her family said: ‘It is with deepest regret that Megan’s family must announce that she has sadly passed on, doing the thing she loved.

‘Ever since Megan was at school, she always wanted to be in the armed forces. Everybody who knew Megan was aware of this. She was so excited about going.

‘It was the start of her dream job. Megan is going to be missed by so many people, friends and colleagues.

‘Although she will be deeply missed her presence will always be alive. Megan will always go on in people’s memories for her lively sense of humour and her fun sarcasm and quirky personality.

‘The family are very grateful for all the good wishes and thoughts and just ask that people respect our privacy at this time.’

Challenging: The Army Training Centre in Pirbright, Surrey, pictured, provides basic training to specialist trades including medics, mechanics and gunners. Initial training follows a 14-week common Armyrats © military syllabus

Megan’s girlfriend Carolanne Keating, 25, said on Facebook: ‘I’m lost for words. I still can’t believe it babe. I still really don’t want to believe it.

‘We had plans, future plans like how could they have been robbed of us. It’s not fair. I just want you to know that I loved you loads and you were an absolutely amazing girlfriend to me.

‘I honestly couldn’t fault you. Everyone knew and saw how much we cared about each other and we really made one another truly happy.

‘I already know you are looking out for me up there beautiful. Xxxxx’. Pirbright is one of the Army’s largest initial training centres, providing basic training to specialist trades including medics, mechanics and gunners. The initial training follows a 14-week common Armyrats © military syllabus, which is ‘challenging and demanding’, according to the Army website.

Recruits have the opportunity to take part in a week of adventurous training in the Brecon Beacons in Wales, where activities may include rock climbing, caving and hiking, the website states. A spokesman for the British Army said: ‘We can confirm that a recruit has died while undergoing initial training at the Army Training Centre (ATC) Pirbright.

‘The incident is being investigated and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.

‘We offer our condolences to the family and ask that you respect their privacy while they come to terms with their sudden loss.’

Pirbright is only four miles from Deepcut, where four soldiers died between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. Privates Cheryl James, Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray all sustained gunshot wounds.

Initial reports suggested Ms Park had completed a gruelling two-day exercise. But the claims have since been dismissed by her family and the Army, who said it was ‘something quite minor’ (file photo)

Earlier this year the Army apologised after being criticised by a coroner for a catalogue of blunders which led to three deaths on an SAS test march in the Brecon Beacons. An inquest into the heat-related collapse of reservists James Dunsby, Edward Maher and Craig Roberts concluded they would have survived if commanders had followed Ministry of Defence guidelines. Narrative verdicts recorded by Birmingham coroner Louise Hunt also found that delays in providing medical help to the men in the incident in July 2013 amounted to neglect.

A 20-day inquest heard that directing staff took almost two hours to notice that Lance Corporal Maher had stopped moving during the 16-mile march in ‘heatwave’ conditions. After the inquest, Brigadier John Donnelly, the Army’s personnel director, said: ‘I would like to apologise for the deaths of James Dunsby, Craig Roberts and Edward Maher, three fine soldiers, and I would like to offer my sincere condolences to their families and friends who have shown great dignity during what has been a very difficult period.

‘We are truly sorry for all the mistakes the coroner identified.’

Late last year, an army review paved the way for women to be allowed to fight on the front line. The review cast doubt on previous claims that women would damage the ‘cohesion’ of fighting units.

It was estimated that about 14 women a year would qualify of the Royal Armoured Corps and six for the Royal Marines, with some expected to be put in combat roles as early as next year.

References

  1. ^ Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)

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