|Navy SEAL Trainee death ruled homicide by drowning
Navy SEAL Trainee death ruled homicide by drowning
The death of a 21-year-old Navy SEAL trainee in California was ruled a
homicide by drowning, San Diego medical examiners revealed
Wednesday in a development that could lead to charges against at
least one training supervisor.
Seaman James "Derek" Lovelace died in May after he was taking part
in a swimming drill in Coronado. Surveillance video showed that as
Lovelace was struggling to tread water in combat fatigues, boots and a
dive mask, one instructor dunked the trainee's head under the water at
least twice and splashed him, investigators said. Witnesses said
Lovelace's face turned purple and his lips were blue.
After he struggled for about five minutes, as his head went underwater
several times, the instructor finally pulled him out. The trainee lost
consciousness soon afterwards, and paramedics rushed him to a
hospital where he was pronounced dead, Naval Special Warfare Center
spokesman Lt. Trevor Davids said.
"Although the manner of death could be considered by some as an
accident... it is our opinion that the actions, and inactions, of the
instructors and other individuals involved were excessive and directly
contributed to the death, and the manner of death is best classified as
homicide," Deputy Medical Examiner Abubakr Marzouk and Forensic
Pathology Fellow Kimi Verilhac wrote in a statement.
"It is important to understand that 'homicide' refers to 'death at the
hands of another' and a homicide is not inherently a crime," Naval
Criminal Investigative Service spokesman Ed Buice responded. He
said the Navy was still investigating and had not determined whether
charges would be filed.
Davids said the instructor has been assigned administrative duties.
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