An aspiring U.S. Navy SEAL commando died just hours after completing the grueling admission test known as Hell Week. The man was identified as Kyle Mullen, 24, who joined the military last year. Marine Mullen died at a San Diego-area hospital Friday after he and another SEAL trainee reported experiencing symptoms of an unknown illness, the Navy said. The other sailor, whose name has not been released, was hospitalized in stable condition, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday.
What is cause?
The cause of death is unknown and is being investigated. Both men fell ill just hours after successfully completing the test that ends the first phase of evaluation and selection for the elite Basic Underwater Demolition class. The Navy said neither had suffered an accident or an unusual incident during the five-and-a-half days of the test week. Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of the Navy’s Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California, offered his condolences to Mullen’s family in a statement. “We’re extending every form of support we can to Mullen’s family and Kyle’s classmates,” Howard said. Kyle Mullen enlisted in the Navy in March 2021, according to his naval biography.
He showed up for SEAL training in Coronado in July, the Union-Tribune said. The week-long test is part of the BUD/S class, which involves basic underwater demolition, survival, and other combat tactics. It comes in the fourth week in which SEAL candidates are evaluated and await selection for training within the Special Naval Warfare Basic Training Command. The SEAL program tests physical and psychological strength, along with aquatic competence and leadership skills. The program is so strenuous that at least 50% to 60% do not make it past Hellish Week, in which candidates are pushed to the limit.
The last SEAL candidate to die during the evaluation phase was Marine James Derek Lovelace, 21, in 2016. He was struggling to step on the water with the full equipment in a giant pool when his instructor pushed him underwater at least twice. He lost consciousness and died. His death was initially declared a homicide by the San Diego County medical examiner.
A year later, following an investigation, the Navy said it would not file criminal charges for Lovelace’s drowning. The autopsy revealed that he had an enlarged heart that contributed to his death, and that he also had an abnormal coronary artery, which has been associated with sudden cardiac death, especially in athletes. The autopsy report does not clarify the extent to which Lovelace’s heart abnormalities contributed to his death. The latest death comes just two months after a Navy SEAL commander died from injuries sustained during a training accident in Virginia. Commander Brian Bourgeois, 43, fell while speeding down from a helicopter and died several days later.