The Marines have identified Zachary Boland as the second recruit to die this year at the service’s East Coast training depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, as Marine boot camp comes under intense scrutiny by lawmakers.
Separately, a recruit who was severely injured in a two-story fall at Parris Island on Oct. 28 remains in critical condition, said Capt. Gregory Carroll, a spokesman for Parris Island. The Marine Corps has not released his name, but friends of his family have identified him as Kristian Gashaj, 18, of Sterling Heights, Michigan.
Boland, 18, was assigned to the 2 nd Recruit Training Battalion when he was found unconscious in his bed after 8 p.m. on Friday, Carroll said. He was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9:32 p.m.
A lawmaker said she was “deeply disturbed” to learn of Boland’s death and called for it to be “investigated thoroughly and expeditiously.”
No further details about Boland’s death were available Monday. A command directed investigation into that matter is ongoing, Carroll said.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family during this difficult time,” Carroll said.
Until this year, deaths at Parris Island were relatively rare. A recruit drowned at the training depot in 2005; another died in 2009 after finishing his physical fitness test; and a drill instructor was found dead in base housing in 2014.
This year has seen three major incidents at Parris Island, beginning in March when recruit Raheel Siddiqui jumped over the railing of a barracks stairwell and fell nearly 40 feet. Siddiqui, 20, was assigned to the 3 rd Recruit Training Battalion, where drill instructors often slapped and choked recruits, an investigation into his death found.
Up to 20 Marines at Parris Island could be charged or face administrative punishment for allegations of abuse against Siddiqui and others.
The scandal has outraged some lawmakers, such as Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who has co-sponsored a bill that would require the services to report to Congress how prevalent hazing is. Dingell represents Taylor, Michigan, where Siddiqui lived before starting recruit training at Parris Island.
“I was deeply disturbed to learn of the recent incidents at Parris Island, including the death of a second recruit,” Dingell said in a statement on Monday. “Since the death of Raheel Siddiqui earlier this year, I’ve been working to get answers for his family and ensure the Marine Corps has processes in place to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.”
The spokesman for House Armed Services Democrats echoed Dingell’s sentiment.
“It is seriously concerning that there have been three incidents at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot this year,” the spokesman said. “These incidents need to be fully investigated so that the facts can be established.”
Shortly after Siddiqui died, Dingell asked Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller if Siddiqui was hazed at Parris Island. An investigation found that Siddiqui had threatened to kill himself days before his death, claiming he was being beaten by his drill instructors. The investigation also found that one of his drill instructors had been investigated for allegedly ordering another Muslim recruit to get into a commercial dryer and then turning it on several times in 2015.
“I want the facts on Friday’s tragedy, but the loss of a second recruit raises serious questions,” Dingell said in Monday’s statement. “I am committed to getting to the root of this issue. The men and women who sign up to serve our country should not be dying in boot camp, and this third incident within eight months must be investigated thoroughly and expeditiously. I have already reached out to my colleagues in the Congress from Michigan to help ensure that.”