Deputy Jimmie Richard Henry was a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff assigned to Avalon Station on Santa Catalina Island. On June 19, 1984 a U.S. Navy F-18 fighter crashed into the island above White’s Landing.
Deputy Jimmie Henry came to work from his day off and responded to the location. There, he inhaled smoke from the burning aircraft without breathing apparatus. The smoke consisted of burning graphite and other unknown classified composite materials. Due to his inhalation exposure, his health gradually deteriorated. He developed pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis, suffered chronic lung disease and had a lung transplant. Due to his continuing medical problems he was forced to retire on October 25, 1990 and on May 12, 1995 he died at UCLA Medical Center, five months following a lung transplant.
Two other deputies at the crash site also developed documented long term respiratory problems. Although they have not succumbed to their exposure, both were granted worker’s compensation awards and given lifetime medical coverage as to their lungs.
Departmental reports, the Coroners report, medical records, and affidavits from fellow deputies all support, and make a rather strong case, that Deputy Henry’s single exposure to toxic carcinogens on June 19, 1984, while on duty, was the proximate cause of his untimely death on May 12, 1995. He was 49 years old.
Deputy Henry was survived by his wife Susan (since remarried) and his son David.