Army Reservists Dies in Traffic Accident

Here is an article from the Associated Press on the traffic accident I wrote about the other day. My prayers go out to their families.

The Associated Press
3:11 p.m. February 23, 2007
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Two U.S. soldiers died and two others were injured in a traffic accident in northwestern Panama, emergency personnel reported Friday.

The U.S. Embassy identified the dead as Christopher Conn, of California, and Brad A. Svoboda, of Maine. Details on their hometowns or units were not immediately released.

The Army reservists were traveling in a Humvee on Thursday when it was struck by a truck near the town of Miramar, about 300 miles west of the capital.

One of the reservists was declared dead at the scene and another died hours later, said Roberto Velasquez, director of the National Civil Protection System.

Two other reservists suffered less severe injuries in the crash, the embassy said. A Panamanian traveling in the Humvee was also injured, as well as the driver of the truck.

In the western province of Bocas del Toro, reserve units are building schools and health clinics, and providing medical assistance for local residents.

28 thoughts on “Army Reservists Dies in Traffic Accident

  1. Today in the Panama America newspaper, they inform that a second reservist died on his way to Panama City. The two reservists were: Christopher Conn from California and Brad A. Svoboda from Maine. Other two reservists suffered slight injuries.

  2. You were not given consent to release the names. What gives you the right. You are releasing information that the family does not know about. The Fucking media knows more than the family does. You guys have NO SHAME in what you do. As long as a story gets out, and you get paid thats all you care about. If it was one of your own kids, you would like to know what happend to them befor the rest of the nation. You guys are a piece of work, thanks for NOT having any RESPECT for the families.

  3. Shawn E. – While you probably have good intentions, you are directing your anger at the wrong person. What is in the post was from an AP feed and has been published in many news papers in Panama as well as in other parts of the world.

    By the time I know anything, it is old news. I appreciate your concern for the families, however I find your way of expressing yourself to be more than a little distasteful.

    I doubt that any of the effected families read this blog and will learn of the deaths this way. However, many in Panama who appreciate the work that these individuals were doing, do read and would like to know who to remember in their prayers.

  4. Gee Don,

    You’d think if the U.S. Embassy released the info then you could post it on a blog without getting ripped.


  5. One of the concerns about the Internet and the great number of blogs is that they seem to provide an outlet for some folks who have no adequate means of dealing with their emotions or with their agendas. I’m saddened to see this again and again. Thanks again, Don Ray, for providing information in a sensible, decent way.

  6. I realize that not many people read blogs, and yes maybe I’m letting my frustration out on the wrong person. But the fact is that the San Diego Tribune KNEW and released more information about the accident than the father of one of the victims. Before permission was given to release the name.
    Help me undertstand this… Do you write for the AP?

    DR, “Here is an article from the Associated Press on the traffic accident I wrote about the other day. My prayers go out to their families.”

    LL, “Today in the Panama America newspaper, they inform that a second reservist died on his way to Panama City. The two reservists were: Christopher Conn from California and Brad A. Svoboda from Maine. Other two reservists suffered slight injuries.”

    DR, “Yes. Thanks. I updated the information with a later AP feed.”

    The U.S Embassy did not have permission to release the names either. However the names were released or leaked out. It’s still not right. I work for the Federal Govt. and recently lost 5 friends, and NONE of the names were released until ALL family members were contacted and consent was GIVEN.

    So sorry for the vent, and making such a deal about it. But my cousin and family deserves better.
    It’s nice to know that people are on your side, but who’s on ours?

  7. Shawn – Obviously there is no good way to learn that a loved one has died. Many times we want to lash out in anger at someone especially when it is a senseless death. All in all I guess it is better to get the anger out rather than keep it bottled up inside. All of us would like to live a wonderful life and die peacefully in our sleep and we wish that for our family and friends as well.

    Unfortunately life isn’t that way. I have lived long enough not to expect life to be fair. I can’t speak for the US Embassy, or the AP Press. However, I try not to put anyone else’s work in this blog without giving credit to the source.

    My personal opinion is that any anger for these two deaths should be directed toward the driver of the truck who caused the accident, not the messengers that wrote of the event.

    This is not a “Your side” “Our side” conflict. While I had but a fleeting acquaintance with the members of this army unit, I was most proud of the work they were doing. When I had talked with them, I was most impressed with how professional they were and how polite they were. They were the types of individuals that make you proud to say you are an American. I had asked permission to take the photos of the members I had met here in David and they had said it would be better to visit them on their project and photograph them in the project.

    I had mentally scheduled time to drive to the area and take photos of the work they were doing so that more people would know about it. My interest has weakened because of this accident. I feel sorry for the rest of the army team in Panama as I feel that they also have lost members of their family. And yet, life must go on. This team will still have to continue the good work they came here to do.

    To answer your question, I do not write for the AP. Nothing that appears in this blog has been paid for. This blog is merely a small mirror of what’s happening in my life and the people, places and things that effect it. I was affected by meeting this army team and when this tragic accident happened, it touched me and I wrote about it.

  8. I’m not worried about the blog. I would like try to understand how the names were released to the media before family members could even confirm, or give consent. Whats done is done. You or I cant change what already happened.

    Yes these were good people that died. Yes I’m angry that this even happened. Yes the unit was doing good for another counrty and ours. I do not dissagree with you about that. And yes most definitely I’m angry at the driver that caused the accident. It’s frustrating to hear of their deaths for volunteerting to even go to Panama.

    Thank You for clarifying things. Is there any information about what they were doing, or do you have any pics from articles? Any information would be greatly appreciated. If you care to share outside the blog. It would mean a great deal to the family. I will understand if you dont want to deal with me.

  9. Not a problem Shawn. I am glad I provided you a place to vent. Sometimes we need that.

    I really don’t have any other information other than what was in the articles I posted. I am not even sure I understand exactly where the accident happened.

    I don’t know who has the responsibility for releasing names of army personal when they are in foreign lands. I also don’t know if it was done officially or leaked as you put it. It is unfortunate if it was not done the proper way.

    I have not seen any photos from the accident other than some I briefly saw on the local TV station and I only remember seeing the damaged truck.

    I am sorry you and your family have gone through this. Since someone very close to me has also recently gone through a loss of someone through a senseless act, I trully empathise.

  10. Just wanted to make a quick comment in the above mentioned Us soldier Brad Svoboda. I just came from the services and it was a pretty tough day. However it was a great turn out from all the veterans groups within a hundred miles, state police honor guard, various town police and Fire fighters. Not to mention the hundreds of soldiers, family and friends of Brads.

    Brad was a cousin of mine three years younger but someone who I have always been envious of, he was the kind of person that was seldom bothered by the little things in life and was off following in his brothers foot steps doing something he loved. I had lost touch with Brad over the last ten years or so and just saw him last when he arrived back from Iraq and his family had a cook out to welcome him home. It was like I had just saw him last week gave me a big smile like he always had and said it was good to see you. I’m somewhat bothered by the fact that I had lost touch with him and will miss him deeply. I think theres a lesson to be learned for everyone and that is life is to short not to make the best of it every day. And If I have learned anything it is to hold on to the ones we love a little bit closer because you never know if your going to get to say goodbye. Something myself and a lot others had to do today in a way that nobody really wanted to.

    In closing let me assure everyone that Brad’s family learned of his death before this blog was posted. Thank you for your heart being in the right place. I sometimes have mixed emotions about sites like these but I think it’s important for people to keep Brad’s memory alive and also for them to know what he gave his life for, and that was helping others. I don’t think I’ll ever know another man quit like Brad but I’m happy knowing he left having lead a full and meaningful life, he was raised by some great people His mother, father, older brother and sister are all people you hope your own children will grow up to be like.

    Thanks for listening Mike D

  11. Don,

    I see you mentioned in one of your posts that you had taken pictures of the work that was being done by the US Soldiers. Do you perhaps have any that I could share with his family? Please let me know as it would be a great part of preserving Brad’s memory.
    Thanks Mike Davis

  12. Hi Mike. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I am sorry for your loss. I am happy the services you attended demonstrated the love and admiration that is appropriate for one who served as he did.

    Related to your photo question, I have not been to the area where all of the work is being done yet. It is on my agenda of things to do and I hope to go on the 11th or 18th. After I go, I will drop you an email and any photos I take will appear on the blog sometime following my trip.

    You are correct when you said there is a lesson to be learned about life being too short and that we need to let those we love know of how we feel today and not wait till tomorrow.

    I try to follow the James Dean quote at the top of this blog.

    Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

  13. I am a Master Sgt in the USAF and had the pleasure for serve with Sgt Svoboda last month in Panama. If you would like to give Mike Davis my e-mail address, I have a few photo that I took and would be happy to talk with him.

  14. Don thanks for the email. Sorry I did not get to you sooner. Services for Conn turned out very nice. It ment alot to the family, to see the National Guard there.
    Have you herd or scene anything regarding the accident?
    Master Sgt. would you also happen to have photos of Conn, or any photos of him with the unit? Anything would help. Thanks.

  15. I was Chris Conn’s AIT instructor as well as his platoon sergeant when he served with me at Ft Bliss, TX. Gotta admit I’m numb upon hearing of his passing. He was a great young man who always lived life to it’s fullest. His passing is a great blow to all of us who had the pleasure of knowing him during his short stay on earth.

  16. Just wanted to say thank you for posting what information is available. Chris Conn was a good friend of mine and we served together on active duty for 3 years. I just found out recently that he died and I wanted to find out more information on what exactly happened and am glad I was able to find out more. I know he will be missed by many and he was a great friend to a lot of people.

  17. To Brad and Chris’s family and friends. I know this post is a five years later but on memorial day I felt the need to do everything I could to remember Brad and Chris. I was on the mission with them when everything happened. It is a day that will be forever etched in my mind. I did everything I could to save their lives and I have nothing but honorable things to say about both men. I can assure you all that their memory lives on!

    CPT Franklin Barker
    US Army Reserves

  18. Hi Frank,

    I am a friend of Brad’s, and I have stumbled across your comment. I have often wondered about the others who were with him at that time. Somehow a postcard he wrote to me which was in the vehicle with him found its way to me afterwards at his service. I agree with your comment, he was a great person and will always be remembered.


  19. Josie

    Yes I was with him when it all happened, I was with him the whole day leading up to it. I also remember him taking photos of a bridge because he had a friend that liked old bridges. I quickly realized how much he thought about others!!

    Frank barker

  20. Yesterday was a sad day to remember the tragic accident and the lost of two great soldiers. But please remember their good times and everything they done for the Nation. I was the Task Force XO when the accident happened. I retired and live at Panama now. I have visited the site where we have their crosses. If somebody needs more pics and/or information or is thinking on visiting Panama please send me an email at God bless America.

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