Youth dies at IDF flight school

Second candidate in serious condition after pre-draft IAF selection tryouts.

itai sharon 298 ap (photo credit: IDF)
itai sharon 298 ap
(photo credit: IDF)
One day after Itai Sharon, 17, of Zichron Ya'akov, died during the pre-draft Air Force selection tryouts, another candidate for the prestigious flight school was listed in serious condition Thursday night after suffering what doctors believed to be sunstroke. The candidate was evacuated to the hospital on Wednesday in light condition. However, his condition deteriorated on Thursday evening. Initial findings concluded that there were no deviations of the army's regulations which may have caused Itai Sharon's death, said IDF's Chief of the Medical Corp Brig. -Gen. (Doc.)Hezi Levi on Thursday. Sharon, 17, of Zichron Ya'akov, a candidate for the IAF's prestigious flight school died Wednesday afternoon after collapsing during pre-draft selection tryouts at an Air Force base in the Negev. Levi claimed that Sharon had died of heat exhaustion following a six kilometer hike that began at 6 a.m. and continued for two hours, he said. The general said that the temperature had been measured prior to, during and after the hike. He said that weather conditions were not at the point, according to the army's scale, that could prevent the group from conducting physical activity. Witnesses said the young man had asked to rest after informing commanders that he felt unwell. He then apparently fainted some time later while resting in the shade. He was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, where he was pronounced dead. OC Air Force Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi ordered the formation of a special investigative committee that will try to determine whether the young man's death was a result of dehydration or related to a prior medical condition. Itai was taken to the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Abu Kabir to determine his exact cause of death. The Air Force will also examine whether commanders and medical staff took appropriate precautions for the tryouts in light of a recent heat wave across the country. The Military Police will conduct a separate investigation into the incident. Moti Sharon, Itai's father, served as a helicopter pilot in the air force. He was killed in 1988 when his helicopter crashed as it was landing on the border of Israel and Egypt. At the time, Itai was only four months old. Despite IDF regulations restricting children with no siblings from becoming pilots, Itai's mother, Ruthie, found it difficult to stand in the way of his desire to follow in his father's footsteps. Sharon will be laid to rest at 10 a.m. on Friday at the military section of Zichron Ya'akov's cemetery.