FORT BENNING, Ga. (AP) — A 21-year-old Army officer died after falling ill during his first day at the military's grueling Ranger School in Georgia.
The soldier, 2nd Lt. Michael R. Parros, died Wednesday at a hospital two days after he became sick during training at Fort Benning. The Army said in a news release that doctors treated Parros for hyponatremia, an illness caused by unusually low sodium levels in the blood that can result from drinking too much water.
"Typically it's over-hydration, but we don't really know what happened in this case," John Tongret, a Fort Benning spokesman, said Thursday.
The two-month Ranger School course tests soldiers' abilities to overcome fatigue, hunger and stress during combat operations. The latest class kicked off on a sweltering Monday when temperatures at Fort Benning, located outside Columbus, reached 95 degrees and the heat index hit 103 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Parros of Walnut Creek, California, had completed a training session on hand-to-hand combat and gone to dinner before he became ill Monday, Tongret said. He said the Army is investigating, which is standard practice when a soldier dies.
The Army said Parros graduated in May from the U.S. Army Military Academy at West Point, where he played football, soccer and hockey.
"This is a tragic loss," Lt. Col. Matthew Weber, who oversees the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course on Fort Benning, said in a statement. "While 2nd Lt. Parros was only with us for a short time, he showed so much potential and was the epitome of the kind of soldier you want to serve with."