Navy Punishes Seal Trainers Following Student’s Death

The Navy has disciplined three officers responsible for supervising Navy SEAL training after a trainee died shortly after completing the famed “Hell Week” earlier this year.

The autopsy results for 24-year-old Kyle Mullen were announced on Wednesday, and they revealed that he died from severe pneumonia with an enlarged heart as a contributing factor. In the hours following the rigorous exercise, Mullen did not receive the care he required since he was not under medical surveillance, as detailed in the report.
The inquiry states that PEDs were discovered in Mullen’s possessions, but they had no role in his untimely demise.

Navy Punishes Seal Trainers Following Student's Death
Navy Punishes Seal Trainers Following Student’s Death

One week after Mullen’s death, the Navy began screening for PEDs among potential SEAL recruits. Almost 1,250 people have been evaluated so far, and 51 of them have been kicked out of the training program.

Some modifications have been made to the medical procedures used by the SEAL training program, such as the need that applicants be seen by medical staff for 24 hours following the conclusion of “Hell Week.”

On February 4, 2022, Mullen passed away just hours after completing “Hell Week,” a Navy exercise known as “extreme stress in a controlled environment” that began the previous Sunday and consisted almost entirely of nonstop physical activity, much of it in cold Pacific waters and nighttime temperatures, with only four hours of sleep in total.

On Thursday, the rest of the recruits could see that Mullen was doing the worst. He was choking on his own fluids and coughing up blood, and his legs were swollen badly. On Thursday, as Mullen was attempting to snooze, one of the recruits complained that he sounded like he was “gurgling water” while breathing.

In order for Mullen to complete “Hell Week,” his instructors had to give him oxygen twice and transport him in an ambulance. The investigation revealed that after leaving the water for good, Mullen informed his fellow recruits that he was glad and called his family from a wheelchair due to his exhaustion.

The recruits claimed that they were briefed on what to do for the following few hours as they rested before being permitted to sleep.

They claimed they had been instructed to contact the on-duty doctor in the event of any problems. The report’s instructions state, “We will see you at any moment.”

Although they were instructed to dial 911 in the event of an emergency, they were warned against doing so, as other doctors might not be familiar with “Hell Week” and, upon seeing their deteriorating state, would decide to hospitalize them.

The report states that as the recruits waited for their own SEAL class to begin, those who lacked medical training were tasked with keeping an eye on them in the barracks. One enlistee told investigators that doctors made a single pass through the barracks at lunchtime to make sure everyone was present, but didn’t seem to check anyone’s health.

Mullen’s condition worsened during the afternoon, and by the time it was evening, he was bluish all over and spitting and coughing up blood.

According to the recruits observing Mullen and his classmates, they dialed the number for the duty medical officer, who instructed them to dial 911 in the event of an emergency. However, Mullen said he did not want to go to the hospital out of fear of being rolled back to a different class and through “Hell Week” all over again.

Although Mullen wasn’t “in his right mind,” one of the recruits in charge of keeping an eye on him told investigators they should have taken him to the hospital regardless.

After the recruits waited too long to ask for help, it was too late to save Mullen’s life.

Despite what you may have read on Wednesday, the inquiry into Mullen’s death is far from over. The “prevalence” of PEDs usage in Mullen’s class, the qualifications of instructors and medical providers, and other factors will all be examined as part of a larger investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.

Captain Brian Drechsler, commanding officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center; Captain Bradley Geary, previous commanding officer of the Basic Training Command; and a senior medical officer have all received letters of caution from the Navy.

 

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