Air force candidate died of heat stroke, not dehydration
A 17-year-old boy who died during tryouts for pilot training was apparently killed by heat stroke rather than dehydration, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
The commander of the Israel Air Force, Major General Elyezer Shkedy, has ordered an investigation into the death of Itai Sharon of Zichron Ya'akov, who died on Wednesday.
A debriefing revealed that between 6:30 and 8:00 A.M. Wednesday, the group of teens involved in the tryout went on a six-kilometer march carrying weights. The IDF's chief medical officer, Brigadier General Hezi Levy, said that the heat stress factor did not rule out such activities under army regulations. At 8:30 A.M., the heat stress factor became borderline in terms of the regulations governing strenuous physical activity, so the group was assigned activities that they could do sitting down.
An hour after the march, Sharon's friends saw him sitting in the sun. When they summoned him into the shade, they noticed that he was confused and apathetic. After they made the commanders aware of Sharon's condition, he was sent for medical treatment. He was found to have a high fever, given a transfusion and transferred to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva, where he lost consciousness and died.
Heat stroke, in which the body is unable to discharge heat built up during strenuous activity, is a known risk in very hot weather. A number of IDF soldiers have died of heat stroke over the years.
Levy said yesterday that Sharon had passed all the necessary medical tests to participate in the tryouts, and that the commanders had acted according to regulations in stopping physical drills after the heat stress factor became excessive and in ordering the boys to drink water.