Wilder’s alcohol level was six times U.S. legal limit
By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
An hour or two before Spc. Donald Anthony Wilder’s death on Jan. 8, 2006, the alcohol level in his body reached 0.50, according to medical documents.
That’s more than six times the 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration that will get you arrested for drunken driving in America. Lethal levels are considered anything higher than 0.35 blood-alcohol concentration.
Officially, Wilder died of “acute alcohol intoxication,” according to his autopsy. Plainly put, the 21-year-old died of alcohol poisoning.
Wilder was found — blue and unresponsive — in a Mannheim barracks shower after a night at the bars with friends. On the evening of Jan. 7, he drank at a Masonic initiation and then hit downtown Mannheim bars.
At one bar when Wilder was already “pretty intoxicated,” a friend saw him take seven or eight shots of rum and drink two to four rum and colas, according to Criminal Investigation Command documents.
Wilder’s alcohol problem began months before his death.
Wilder drank up to 20 12-ounce beers up to three times a week plus he drank one 12-ounce beer a night, according to medical records. Wilder had alcohol tolerance and withdrawal symptoms and reported that he could not stop drinking until passing out or blacking out, according to records.
In October 2005, he referred himself to the Army Substance Abuse Program in Mannheim where counselor Hope Daniels initially diagnosed Wilder with alcohol dependence, according to records.
“Patient has limited skills in coping with the self-destructive pattern of heavy alcohol consumption,” according to Daniels’ summary dated Oct. 17, 2005. “Outpatient group would provide him the context of preventing relapse and developing goals for continued sobriety and quality of life.”
Wilder’s diagnosis was changed to alcohol abuse on Oct. 20, 2005, by Timothy Holloman, the acting clinical director.
“[Wilder] attended all scheduled sessions, both individual and group, and met all of his treatment goals,” according to Daniels’ Jan. 24, 2006, statement. “By self-report and command report, Spc. Wilder remained abstinent for the period of enrollment.”
Wilder left the program as a “treatment success” on Dec. 19, 2005.
But on the night of Jan. 7, 2006, after being hazed and initiated into a Masonic group, Wilder went on a drinking binge.
The two soldiers who went drinking with Wilder that night both knew he had a drinking problem. A specialist from Wilder’s unit told investigators that Wilder’s death could have been avoided if his friends and supervisor had stopped him from drinking, avoided the bars or took him home early.
A CID agent’s questioning of the specialist who was with Wilder that night at the bars gives some insight into Wilder’s mood.
“What was [Wilder’s] demeanor after the ceremony?” an agent asked, according to records.
“Ready to party,” the specialist replied. “He was glad the ceremony was over.”
“What did Spc. Wilder do after the ceremony?” the agent asked.
“He wanted to go to downtown Mannheim to party,” the specialist said.