One Navy SEAL candidate died and a second remained hospitalized after falling ill just hours after they successfully completed the grueling Hell Week test that ends the first phase of assessment and selection for Navy commandos, the Navy said Saturday.
National Public Radio reported that the Navy identified the candidate who died as 24-year-old Kyle Mullen of Manalapan, N.J.
As reported by The Associated Press, the Navy said both individuals were rushed to hospitals in California and that neither candidate had experienced an accident or unusual incident during the five-and-a-half-day Hell Week.
The test is part of the SEALs BUD/S class, which involves basic underwater demolition, survival and other combat tactics, the AP reported. It comes in the fourth week as SEAL candidates are being assessed and hoping to be selected for training within the Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command.
One of the candidates died at Sharp Coronado Hospital in Coronado, Calif., on Friday. The other was in stable condition at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
The Navy said the cause of death was not immediately known and was under investigation.
The SEAL program tests physical and psychological strength along with water competency and leadership skills. The program is so grueling that at least 50 percent to 60 percent don’t make it through Hell Week, when candidates are pushed to the limit, according to the AP.
The last SEAL candidate to die during the assessment phase was 21-year-old Seaman James Derek Lovelace in 2016. He was struggling to tread water in full gear in a giant pool when his instructor pushed him underwater at least twice. He lost consciousness and died.
His death was initially ruled a homicide by the San Diego County Medical Examiner. A year later, after an investigation, the Navy said it would not pursue criminal charges in Lovelace's drowning. An autopsy revealed 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.