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The State : Worker Testing U-2 Helmet Suffocates

A technician suffocated at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View when he put on a pilot’s helmet that was pumping nitrogen, a NASA spokesman reported. Ronald Johnson, 29, of San Jose, was found dead in a room where he conducted routine tests on the helmets worn by U-2 pilots. Technicians use nitrogen instead of oxygen to test for leaks because of the fire danger associated with oxygen. Routine tests do not include wearing the helmet, the spokesman said. The Santa Clara County coroner’s office considers the death an industrial accident, but NASA is conducting a separate investigation and has reached no conclusion.


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