By Kaweewit Kaewjinda, AP
BANGKOK — A U.S. Army officer has died while on temporary duty in Thailand to take part in a major multinational military exercise, U.S. and Thai officials said Wednesday. No foul play was suspected, they said.
Maj. Andrew Cotter had been participating in Cobra Gold, a training and coordination exercise with the United States and host Thailand joined by five major Asian allies, with additional participation by 23 other countries. More than 7,000 military personnel are taking part.
Cotter served as operations officer for the 17th Field Artillery Thunderbolt Brigade in the Army’s I Corps, said a statement issued from where the unit is normally stationed, Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. It said he was found unresponsive in the central Thai city of Lopburi, one of the sites for the exercise, and confirmed dead on Tuesday.
Police Col. Raksak Mekchinda, superintendent of the Lopburi police station, said Cotter’s body was discovered in a bathroom at around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
“He fainted in the bathroom, it was locked, his soldier friends were searching and couldn’t find him, so they kicked the door down and then found him,” he said. “He probably had a medical condition.”
Cotter’s body was transferred to the Police General Hospital in Bangkok for an autopsy, and U.S. Army officials requested that they also be allowed to carry out their own autopsy, said Raksak, who added that the U.S. embassy would handle arrangements for the body’s repatriation.