7 sailors on USS George Washington have died in last year, at least 4 by suicide

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ann Huffman took her life aboard the USS George Washington. (Facebook)

Dave Ress

Daily Press

Seven USS George Washington sailors have died over the past 12 months for various causes, including three in the space a week earlier this month, the Navy said.

The latest, Seaman Recruit Xavier Hunter Mitchell-Sandor, like the two others this month, had come directly to the carrier from boot camp and A-school. He enlisted in the Navy in August.

He was discovered unconscious on the carrier, and was taken to Riverside Regional Medical Center, where he died.

His death and the deaths of Petty Officer 3rd Class Mikail Rashawn Sharp and Petty Officer 3rd Class Ann Huffman earlier this month are under investigation.

The Navy said the deaths do not appear to be related.

“We can confirm seven total deaths of service members assigned to USS George Washington over the past 12 months: 4 in 2021, and 3 in 2022,” the Naval Air Force Atlantic said in a statement.

“The circumstances surrounding these incidents vary and it is premature to make assumptions, as some incidents remain under investigation. The death of any sailor is one too many and we will thoroughly investigate these incidents to ensure we are providing the appropriate support and resources to sailors at sea and in the shipyards,” the command added.

It said its leadership and the carrier’s are engaged with the crew to ensure their health and well-being, and to ensure a climate of trust.

“Chaplains, psychologists, counselors and leaders are with the crew and are available to provide appropriate support and counseling to those grieving the unexpected loss of our shipmates,” the command said.

The Navy declined to make any additional comment.

Two sailors, speaking on the condition that they not be named, say they believe all three deaths this year were the result of suicide. One sailor said a friend was among those who discovered Mitchell-Sandor in one of the carrier’s bathrooms.

The other deaths, which occurred in 2021, were from different causes. These, like the deaths of Sharp and Huffman occurred off base. Two were from health-related issues, one is undetermined and one has been confirmed as a death by suicide.

The Washington is undergoing a multi-year refueling and overhaul at Newport News Shipbuilding that has been taking longer than usual, largely because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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