Page 3 of 4   <       >

A Drunken Night in Iraq, A Soldier Is Left Behind

Pfc. Hannah G. McKinney, 20, was killed Sept. 4, 2006, when she fell out of a Humvee.
Pfc. Hannah G. McKinney, 20, was killed Sept. 4, 2006, when she fell out of a Humvee. (Family Photo)
  Enlarge Photo    

"I told him I would not be taking part in any of this," Anderson said in a statement.

Shell left the tower about 5:35 a.m. with McKinney in the 10,000-pound Humvee, drove down a dead-end road, then made a U-turn after he realized his mistake. Along that road, he noticed McKinney's door open and close, he said.

Back at the main road, he pulled into a gap in a passing convoy. In the seat next to him, he saw McKinney hunched forward. As he drove south, he heard the door open again and felt a familiar bump, where the dirt and gravel road became cement, he said.

Unexpectedly there was a second bump, he said, "like I ran over something."

He looked. The door was open, and McKinney was gone. He tried to remember whether she had gotten out, but, he said, "I knew it was a possibility that I had run her over."

He did not stop to check, he said in a statement. "I thought that I hit her," he said, "but at the time I don't even know that I had thought about these things."

Shell drove to the barracks and went to bed as McKinney lay in the road, her clothes disheveled and one boot missing.

It was about 5:45 a.m. when two servicemen in a Humvee said they spotted her. At first glance, they mistook her body for debris.

An Unexpected Verdict

Barbie and Matt Heavrin arrived in Texas for the court-martial last spring expecting a guilty verdict. They say prosecutors told them the case was a "slam-dunk" that would probably bring a prison sentence of seven to 10 years.

On April 30, the Heavrins took seats in a small courtroom at Fort Hood, accompanied by their two sons: one, then a graduating senior at the U.S. Naval Academy; the other, a Marine. McKinney's husband sat beside them.

Shell had pleaded guilty to drinking, drunken driving and consensual sodomy. His attorneys said he ran over McKinney. In an earlier hearing, prosecutors had said that, even with immediate medical attention, McKinney had almost no chance of survival.

The sole question, to be decided by a judge, Col. Theodore Dixon, was whether Shell's actions amounted to involuntary manslaughter.

<          3        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company