Crew finds sailor dead in elevator shaft

By SUSANNA RAY

Herald Writer

A Bremerton sailor was missing for at least two-and-a-half days before sailors found his body at the bottom of an elevator shaft on the USS Camden off the coast of Singapore, Navy officials said Thursday.

William Calvin Parkhill’s death appears to be the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group’s second falling accident since it left for the Persian Gulf last month.

The Camden and six other ships are traveling with the Lincoln, an Everett-based nuclear aircraft carrier, on a six-month deployment to enforce U.N. sanctions against Iraq.

The other incident occurred on Sept. 8, when a 21-year-old Everett sailor, Christopher Michaelson, fell 65 feet from the Lincoln’s flight deck while the carrier was south of the Philippines. He is recovering from severe internal injuries in a Singapore hospital, and the accident is still under investigation.

"He’s in quite stable condition, and he’s talking and walking with assistance," said Chief Michael Hart, a spokesman for the 7th Fleet in Japan.

Parkhill, 19, was discovered missing during a 7 a.m. crew muster Sept. 16 after the ship left Singapore, Hart said. Sailors found his body Sept. 18.

The ship’s doctor declared him dead from massive head trauma, said Jon Yoshishige, a spokesman for the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii.

The Camden’s elevator covers five to six floors, but Navy officials aren’t sure from what height Parkhill fell.

"It’s still under investigation, but it looks like the sailor’s death was likely an accident," Yoshishige said. "The head trauma was consistent with a fall."

Parkhill was a fireman apprentice learning how to become a machinist’s mate. He had been in the Navy a little more than a year. His wife lives in Port Orchard, and his parents live in Texas.

Navy spokesmen didn’t know Thursday if the body had been flown back to the United States or buried at sea.

The Camden, a fast combat support ship based in Bremerton, has about 700 crew members.

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