Drywall may still be focus in Bragg baby deaths

Fort Bragg (Wikimedia)

October 27, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
The Secretary of the Army will be on post Friday for the first time since Fort Bragg publicly announced that they were looking into whether there was a link in the deaths of 10 babies in four years on post.Earlier this week, Fort Bragg said it has ruled out drywall as a possible cause in its investigation, but the ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team has learned that drywall is still the focus of the federal investigation.

Three years ago Pearline Sculley's 10-week-old son, Jaden, died while they were living on Fort Bragg.

"That's all I want is just to get answers and when I talk to the other families, they're saying the same thing we just want answers, we just want to know what happened," Sculley said.

She says she doesn't have much faith in the test results Fort Bragg released this week.

"I think we have a lot of answers right now," Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Steve Sicinski said. "I think that what we set out to do we accomplished, which was to rule out the homes as part of the problem."

Fort Bragg says the results from their contractors show no problems with the drywall, among other things tested. But a field report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission suspects Chinese drywall in the home where three babies --including Jaden-- had lived before they died.

The report includes photos of what the agent describe as corroding metal, blackening wires and air conditioning unit that had to be replaced in the 5-year-old home.

Each of the three families told the agent what they had told the I-Team that the house smelled like rotten eggs. They also said family members experienced respiratory problems, cold and flu like symptoms and that their babies did too before they died.

The head of NC State's toxicology department says the pictures and the symptoms may point to exposure to hydrogen sulfide.

"It smells like a hydrogen gas problem," NC State Toxicologist Jerry LeBlanc said. "It looks like a hydrogen gas problem with respect to the corrosion. If it looks like it and it and it smells like it I would be very, very suspicious that that is the source of the problem."

But LeBlanc says there's one problem in his review of the testing done for Fort Bragg, the analysts did not test for hydrogen sulfide.

"I was surprised to see they didn't analyze for hydrogen sulfide," he said. "Hydrogen sulfide is a major off-gas from Chinese drywall and one that were concerned about with respect to health complications."

Sculley says she believes the federal investigation will include more thorough testing and hopefully help her understand what may have led to her son's death.

"It's impacted myself, my whole family, my children, my child now, it impacts all of us," she said.

Meanwhile, the builder of the homes at Fort Bragg maintains that they did not use imported drywall. The CPSC is currently investigating that claim.

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