“Birdie Africa,” MOVE's Lone Child Survivor, Dies in Cruise Ship Hot Tub

One of the two surviving members of the 1985 MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia has died in a cruise ship hot tub, a Florida medical examiner says.

Michael Moses Ward, a.k.a. Birdie Africa, was found dead last Friday in a hot tub on the Carnival Dream cruise ship sailing in the Caribbean Sea, a spokesperson with the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office tells NBC10 on Wednesday.

The 41-year-old's death appears to be an accidental drowning, the spokesperson said.

The medical examiner is running toxicology tests and the final results are expected in six weeks.

Ward was the only child to survive the siege and bombing of the MOVE Organization's compound along the 6200 block of Osage Avenue on May 13, 1985.

The radical group, which broadcasted anti-government rants from loudspeakers in the home at 6221 Osage Avenue, engaged in a day-long armed standoff with police after officers tried to serve arrest warrants.

Police eventually dropped an a bag filled with C4 explosives from a helicopter into a fortified bunker on the home's roof. The resulting explosion ignited a fire that spread to 61 adjacent homes.

Then 13-years-old and injured with severe burns, Ward was pulled from the home by two Philadelphia Police officers. He was living in the compound along with his mother. An adult, Ramona Africa, was also able to escape.


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In all, 11 people, including five children, were killed and 250 residents were displaced from their homes.

Ward changed his name in 1986 and while in the care of his father, Andino Ward. He eventually enlisted in the United States Army.

Andino Ward says his son was extremely fit and the family is baffled by his death.

On Wednesday, NBC10 spoke with Ramona Africa, who is now the last remaining survivor from the MOVE bombing.

"One thing's for sure, if he was still in MOVE, if he had not been snatched away from MOVE by his father, he would not have died like that," Africa said. "John Africa told us years ago about how dangerous it is to be about in those waters like that. MOVE people don't take cruises because that's not our belief." 

Ward's family says they are planning a private funeral.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

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