Dead Navy SEAL trainee did not receive intensive care, report says

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In February, Kyle Mullen, a 24-year-old Navy sailor, died suddenly after completing Hell Week of the Navy SEAL selection process – one of the most grueling courses in the US military. On Wednesday, the Navy released details of an inquest into his death which found he was not to blame. The report also said that Mullen – who appeared gravely ill near the end of the training process – had not received critical medical attention and that military leaders may have discouraged him from seeking it.

The Navy said Mullen died in the line of duty and “not of his own misconduct” after completing the six-day hell week. Investigators said he died of cardiac arrest, caused by pneumonia, with an enlarged heart being a contributing factor. They said there was no substantial link between his death and the performance-enhancing substances that were later found among his personal effects.

Investigators’ efforts have been limited to determining whether Mullen died in the line of duty, rather than establishing blame or reviewing SEAL training more generally. But the 320-page report sheds light on the level of medical care available to SEAL candidates during and immediately after Hell Week.

At least two senior Naval Special Warfare Center officers – Capt. Bradley Geary and Capt. Brian Drechsler – and “senior medical personnel under their command” are facing administrative action over Mullen’s death, a spokesperson for Marine. (Such actions may include an order to be advised or to separate from the army.) The Navy said it would implement a cardiac screening program, among other medical initiatives, to reduce the risk of a similar incident.

“Kyle’s death will not be in vain,” said Rear Admiral Keith Davids, head of Naval Special Warfare Command. “We have a moral obligation to learn all we can about Kyle’s tragic death so that we can ensure the safety of all future contestants.”

The lengthy report is followed by a separate survey of the SEAL selection process. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told a House Armed Services Committee hearing this year that he would “take appropriate action” once investigations were completed.

Three deaths linked to recent Navy SEAL training courses

Held in the San Diego area, Hell Week is a test of physical and psychological endurance that requires SEAL candidates to run, row and swim – among other strenuous activities – in brutally cold conditions with less than four hours of sleep throughout the period. . Medical personnel are ready for emergencies. It is not uncommon for participants to suffer severe physical pain, vomit or be so tired that they fall asleep while eating, according to accounts by sailors who have watched the process.

During the week in hell, Mullen showed swelling, numbness, “tingling below the knee” and shortness of breath, witnesses told investigators. Other candidates reported that he had coughed up “strange liquids” at one point and that on at least one occasion an unnamed instructor prevented Mullen from seeing medical personnel, a witness told investigators.

On the day Hell Week ended, medical staff also observed abnormalities in his lungs that indicated potential pneumonia or heart problems, according to the investigation. He was also supplied with oxygen twice that day. There was so much swelling in his legs that by the time he completed the process around 9:30 a.m. on February 4, he was taken to his barracks in a wheelchair, investigators said. A witness reported that Mullen appeared to be in good spirits as the event drew to a close, although he was also described as looking in the “worst condition of anyone in his class”.

Non-medical personnel were assigned to monitor the contestants in the hours following the week from hell. That afternoon, they advised Mullen to seek medical attention, investigators said. Mullen declined, saying he would await a routine medical checkup the next day, investigators said. After noticing that Mullen was coughing up liquids and unable to eat without vomiting, one of the monitors called a doctor on call. Medical staff told the watchman to call 911 if Mullen “was in poor condition,” according to the report.

Later in the afternoon of February 4, Mullen’s condition appeared to worsen. A doctor who was contacted around 4 p.m. told monitors to call 911. A witness said they were also told the medical center was closed and on-site treatment was unavailable.

It wasn’t until 4:09 p.m. that the local fire department received an emergency call for Mullen, who was by then “out of breath” and had bluish skin. About an hour later he was pronounced dead.

Mullen’s family could not immediately be reached for comment, but Mullen’s mother, Regina Mullen, has previously expressed concern that no one in the chain of command will face disciplinary action for her son’s death. .

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