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Michael Moses Ward “Birdie Africa” Dead At 41

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By Kristina Dougherty, John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)– One of two survivors of the 1985 bombing of the MOVE compound in West Philadelphia has died of an apparent drowning in a hot tub while on a cruise with family members in the Caribbean.

The Brevard County Medical Examiner’s says 41-year-old Michael Moses Ward died of a suspected drowning. Medical examiners say he was found unresponsive in a hot tub aboard the cruise ship “Carnival Dream” on Friday. The exact cause of death will be determined pending toxicology results in about six weeks. His death is not believed to be suspicious.

In 1985, the city dropped a bomb on the radical group MOVE’s compound on Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia. Eleven people died.  Two people survived — an adult woman and a 13-year-old boy who was known then as Birdie Africa and since changed his name to Michael Moses Ward.

Now retired Philadelphia police officer James Berghaier helped pulled the boy to safety on that day. He says the news of Ward’s death is very upsetting to him.

“He has been through a lot. It’s a shame and he is at peace now,” Berghaier said.

After surviving the bombing, Ward moved to Montgomery County, the home of his biological father.

He graduated from North Penn High School in 1992. He was divorced and is survived by his two children.

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