PORTLAND (AP) – A long-awaited Army report on the death in Iraq of an Army reservist from Kennebunk drew more questions from U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, who criticized the report as inadequate.

1st Sgt. Christopher Coffin, a member of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command, was killed July 1, 2003, when his Humvee crashed in a ditch along a highway near Baghdad.

After a 14-month investigation, the Army’s Inspector General concluded that the crash was caused by an oncoming Iraqi civilian vehicle that was maneuvering erratically.

In a letter to Inspector General Joseph Schmitz, Collins, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, requested a review of the report’s findings and recommendations.

Collins said the report failed to sufficiently explore the intent of the Iraqi vehicle and raised questions about whether the vehicle was the sole cause of the accident.

In her letter, the Maine Republican referred to a report that a member of Coffin’s unit was killed July 1, 2003, when his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device. Coffin was not named in that release, but he was the only member of the unit to die that day.

“Another witness described the situation on national television as an ambush,”‘ Collins wrote in her letter. “In addition, after the accident there was one witness who heard the distinct sound of an AK-47 being fired at the scene of the accident.”

Collins also questioned whether potentially hostile Iraqi crowds played a part in the incident.

The senator said she was writing on behalf of Betsy Coffin, the soldier’s widow, who has spoken of the pain of receiving conflicting information surrounding her husband’s death and not knowing what happened.

Sorting out conflicting explanations could determine whether Coffin died in combat or as the result of a non-combat accident, and whether he should be awarded a Purple Heart posthumously.


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