Parents of dead Marine question official death account
Washington — The family of a Taylor military recruit says the South Carolina hospital where their son was reportedly transported for emergency treatment has no record of his being a patient there before his death in 2016.
The recruit, Raheel Siddiqui, 21, died after a fall at the Marine Corps’ Parris Island boot camp two years ago.
His parents now say the Medical University of South Carolina has informed them that their son does not appear in its Master Patient Index, after they had requested his medical records.
This conflicts with an official investigation by the Marines that said Siddiqui received emergency surgery at the Medical University of South Carolina on March 18, 2016, where he later died; and that Siddiqui’s autopsy was performed at the same hospital the next day.
“They searched all their records twice and found no record of him twice — which is impossible if they had treated him,” Shiraz K. Khan, the family’s attorney, said in a Thursday interview. “It’s incredibly unbelievable. The family is outraged.”
Khan said the Siddiqui family is alleging that officials falsified records, noting discrepancies among the time and place of death listed on his death certificate, his autopsy and the Marines’ official reports of the incident.
Heather M. Woolwine, a spokeswoman for the Medical University of South Carolina, said she could not comment publicly on any patient or confirm or deny their treatment without the family’s written consent, due to privacy laws.
The Marine Corps stands by the documents provided publicly through its investigation of Siddiqui’s death, spokesman Capt. Joshua Pena said Thursday.
The new information introduces another wrinkle into the story behind Siddiqui’s death, which led to investigations into a culture of recruit abuse and hazing within the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Parris Island.
Last fall, a military jury sentenced a drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph A. Felix, to 10 years in prison for abusing three Muslim recruits, including of Siddiqui.
Last month, a former battalion commander at the boot camp pleaded guilty to three charges, including negligently returning Felix to work while he was under investigation for hazing a different Muslim recruit.
Siddiqui suffered serious trauma after falling from the third story of his barracks around 5:30 a.m. March 18, 2016.
The Marines say he committed suicide, but Siddiqui’s family says their son did not kill himself, but was instead targeted and abused at Parris Island because of his Islamic faith.
The Siddiquis and their congresswoman, Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn, last year asked the coroner in Beaufort County, South Carolina, to revise the manner of death listed on his death certificate, but the coroner has not done so.
The Marines’ probe into Siddiqui’s death reported that Siddiqui was transported from Parris Island to Beaufort Memorial Hospital by ambulance after his fall, arriving shortly before 7 a.m.
Due to the seriousness of his injuries, Beaufort then transferred Siddiqui to the Medical University of South Carolina, where he was admitted at 8:42 a.m.
The Marine investigator reported that, there, Siddiqui received blood transfusions, emergency surgery and other care before he was pronounced dead at 10:06 a.m.
However, Siddiqui’s parents note that his death certificate says his time of death was 5:45 a.m., while a copy of the autopsy lists the time of death as 10:45 a.m., Khan said.
A casualty report by the Marines said Siddiqui died at 10:06 a.m. at Parris Island “outside a medical treatment facility.”
“Since MUSC has no record of Raheel Siddiqui in their index, it is impossible for them to have treated him until 10:06 or 10:45 a.m., as was stated in autopsy reports. That’s why there is no record of Raheel in their patient index,” Kahn said in a statement.
“The magnitude of evidence cannot be diffused as simple mistakes or mere human error. These deliberate actions have caused the Siddiqui family irreparable harm and severe emotional distress. They are simply devastated, and are left to question the ‘true’ final moments of their son’s life.”
Khan said the family actually received two copies of the autopsy report. The second copy had been “corrected” to revise the way in which the body was identified.
Siddiqui’s parents, Ghazala and Masood Siddiqui, last year sued the Marine Corps for $100 million, claiming their son was assaulted, hazed and discriminated against because of his Islamic faith, and that military officials were negligent in failing to protect him.
The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the Pentagon to perform another investigation into Siddiqui’s “suspicious” death.
“We call on the Department of Defense to launch a new and transparent investigation as to why military officials claimed that Siddiqui was sent to the hospital, despite the fact there is no record of him being admitted,” CAIR Michigan Director Dawud Walid said in a Thursday statement.
“This follows a disturbing pattern of misinformation in the case by military officials.”