Kings Bay Naval Base, Ga. — The deaths of two sailors assigned to Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base — found four days apart, but in the same off-base home — are under investigation after what authorities are calling separate drug overdoses.
Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Jerrell, assigned to the Trident Training Facility at Kings Bay, was found dead Thursday inside the home, said Sarah Self-Kyler, spokeswoman for U.S. Submarine Forces. She said she is handling all inquiries about the situation because the sailors were part of different commands on the base.
She said Jerrell was house-sitting at the time. When Petty Officer 2nd Class Ty Bell came back, he found his home was an active crime scene and learned of the death. Bell is assigned to the Ohio-class ballistic submarine USS Wyoming at Kings Bay, according to the Navy.
Self-Kyler said Bell stayed with a friend for a night as Jerrell’s death was investigated and he returned home once the scene was cleared.
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Bell was found dead Monday at the same home, Self-Kyler said. She said toxicology reports are not complete, but both deaths look like apparent drug overdoses. Bell was 26 and Jerrell was 25, according to the Navy.
The Kingsland Police Department is investigating with support from the Navy Criminal Investigative Service, Self-Kyler said.
Police reports indicate Bell lived in the residence in the 100 block of Spinnaker Circle and was found on a couch. Jerrell was found on the floor in the back bedroom four days earlier, according to the reports.
Officers responded to the home Thursday about 4:40 p.m. after shipmates found Jerrell dead in the home, according to the report.
The man who found the body told police Jerrell was on vacation with his family at Disney World in Orlando on Wednesday for his daughter’s birthday, according to the report. The man told police Jerrell’s wife called him and told him Jerrell was missing after telling her he was going back to the hotel because he was feeling ill.
Jerrell’s wife filed a missing person report in Orange County as shipmates started looking for him in Camden County, Ga., according to the report. The sailor located Jerrell’s vehicle at Bell’s home and called Bell to ask if he could go inside to check on Jerrell, according to the report.
Camden County Deputy Coroner James Galloway said both bodies were sent to the GBI’s medical examiner’s office in Savannah and the results of autopsies are pending.
Stacy Carson, special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Kingsland field office, said the GBI has begun investigating overdose deaths to determine whether they resulted from fentanyl, a powerful and sometimes deadly drug.
The Kingsland office has not been asked to assist in the investigation of the sailors’ deaths, Carson said.
Looking for fentanyl has almost become standard in drug deaths, Carson said.
As recently as June, the GBI identified two new analogues of fentanyl and issued warnings to police agencies that exposure to the drug through the skin or accidental inhalation could be deadly. The GBI also issued procedures for handling spills of suspected fentanyl.
The Navy completed a urinalysis sweep of all commands in the Kings Bay area following the deaths, Self-Kyler said. She said local commanders will update their crew members on drug programs and available resources.
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