10 facing possible prosecution after death of Navy SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen during 'Hell Week'
Published in News & Features
Ten people, including two high-ranking Navy SEALs, may be prosecuted for their roles in the death of Kyle Mullen, a SEAL candidate who died following the military branch’s infamous “Hell Week” training period.
Kyle Mullen, of Manalapan, N.J., died in Coronado, California, in February 2022, according to the Navy.
“Hell Week” takes place during the fourth week of SEAL training. Around half of the candidates don’t complete the week due to the nonstop physical stress and training, much of it in cold water.
An investigation found “failures across multiple systems” led to 24-year-old Mullen’s death, according to CBS News. Three other candidates were hospitalized during that particular training period.
The report also found there was a higher than usual dropout rate from that class — only 21 of the 58 candidates finished.
Capt. Brad Geary, the commander of training, and Capt. Brian Drechsler, his immediate supervisor, were chastised in the report for their lack of oversight. Drechsler was the commander of the Naval Special Warfare Center at the time. Both men, and the program’s senior medical officer, have left their positions since Mullen’s death.
Toward the end of the training, Mullen was coughing up dark fluid and refusing medical care so as to not fail. He was given oxygen twice on the final day. After finishing, the trainees underwent physical exams and were sent to their barracks to recover. Mullen used a wheelchair to get back to the barracks but was still declared “fit to train.”
Mullen and other three candidates experienced difficulty breathing. Others in the barracks were told the sailors who needed medical attention might be kicked out of the program if 911 needed to be called.
Mullen’s cause of death was determined to be pneumonia.
According to the report, the course’s dropout rate increased dramatically under Capt. Geary, who observers said was more interested in drumming out struggling candidates than in training them and improving their performances. Geary said the candidates were dropping out more because of a lack of mental toughness.
The Navy’s legal command will decide whether to charge Geary, Drechsler and eight others, who could face court martial trials.
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