Coroner: Alcohol-fueled drowning killed MOVE survivor, 41

Posted: June 13, 2014

AFTER A YEAR of uncertainty, the family of MOVE survivor Michael Moses Ward now has a definitive answer to the question of how he died.

The Brevard County (Fla.) Medical Examiner's Office has ruled that Ward, 41, died of an accidental drowning caused by "acute alcohol intoxication," according to his autopsy report.

Ward - who was known as "Birdie Africa" when he was one of two survivors pulled from the burning wreckage of the MOVE compound bombing in West Philly in 1985 - died in a hot tub aboard a Carnival Dream cruise ship last September.

Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for Carnival, said last night that the ship's medical staff was notified of a "medical emergency" in Ward's cabin en route to the cruise's destination in Port Canaveral, Fla.

The staff tried to revive Ward, but "tragically, [Ward] passed away," Gulliksen said.

Subsequent tests on Ward's body showed "no gross trauma," and revealed that he had a blood-alcohol level of .156 when he died, said Richard Huckabee, an investigator with the Medical Examiner's Office.


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