Ruling on What Killed 'Birdie Africa,' MOVE's Lone Child Survivor - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Ruling on What Killed 'Birdie Africa,' MOVE's Lone Child Survivor



    Birdie Africa's Cause of Death Released

    Drowning due to extreme intoxication was released as the official cause of death for Birdie Africa. Birdie was one of two people to survive the MOVE bombing back in 1985 when he was just 13. (Published Thursday, June 12, 2014)

    A Florida medical examiner has ruled the hot tub death last year of Michael Moses Ward, once known as Birdie Africa, was a drowning due to extreme intoxication.

    Thirteen-year-old Birdie Africa was one of only two survivors when a 1985 Philadelphia police assault on the radical group MOVE sparked a fire that killed 11 people, including Birdie's mother.

    Cause of Death Determined for Birdie Africa

    [PHI] Cause of Death Determined for Birdie Africa
    A medical examiner determined Michael Ward, aka Birdie Africa, died of drowning in a hot tub due to extreme intoxfication.
    (Published Thursday, June 12, 2014)

    He went to live with his father and took the name Michael Moses Ward. He served in the army, married, divorced and worked as a long-haul trucker.

    He died in September while he was on a cruise with his extended family. He was found unconscious in a hot tub on the Carnival Dream Cruise ship and pronounced dead in the ship's infirmary. An autopsy report by the Brevard County medical examiner concludes the cause of his death was "drowning due to acute ethyl alcohol intoxication."

    MOVE Survivor Speaks on Birdie Africa's Death

    [PHI] MOVE Survivor Speaks on Birdie Africa's Death
    WATCH: The last survivor of the 1985 MOVE bombing share's her thoughts on the death of Birdie Africa.
    (Published Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013)

    The examiner found "no gross physical trauma," but a blood alcohol level of 0.156.

    Dr. Mike DeAngelis, director of clinical operations for Temple University's emergency department said in a phone interview that's not an alcohol level likely to cause unconsciousness, but that falling asleep in a tub while intoxicated could be dangerous.

    Birdie Africa Dies

    [PHI] Birdie Africa Dies
    Family and friends are mourning the death of Birdie Africa, who was one of the two surviving members of the 1985 MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia. NBC10's Rosemary Connors reports on his life and legacy.
    (Published Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013)

    "Falling asleep while under the influence of alcohol in a hot tub could be enough that you don't wake up immediately, and then you start to choke on some water, and the next thing you know you're not able to breathe effectively and you drown," DeAngelis said.

    Michael Ward was 41 years old.

    The MOVE Confrontation

    [PHI] The MOVE Confrontation
    On May 13, 1985, the city of Philadelphia dropped explosives onto the roof of a home involved in a standoff. What would occur became one of the biggest controversies in the history of the city.
    (Published Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2009)

    Efforts to reach his father, Andino Ward, were unsuccessful. He told Philadelphia Magazine in an interview earlier this year that Michael seemed happy on the cruise, which the family had taken to celebrate wedding anniversaries for Andino, his daughter and her in-laws.