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Pentagon press secretary John Kirby confirmed Monday that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has been briefed on the death of Kyle Mullen of Manalapan, New Jersey, a 24-year-old Navy SEAL candidate who died after completing what’s known as “Hell Week” training California.
“He sends his deepest condolences to the family,” Kirby said of the secretary during a press briefing at the Pentagon. “That’s the kind of news that no parent wants to get. So he knows the Navy is looking into this, and they’re fully investigating the cause of death.”
NAVY IDENTIFIES SEAL CANDIDATE WHO DIED AFTER ‘HELL WEEK’ TRAINING
Mullen died Friday after he became ill just hours after completing the grueling “Hell Week” test at the end of the first phase of BUD / S (Basic Underwater Demolition) training in southern California.
Another BUD / S candidate was also hospitalized after the training and remains in stable condition at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
The Navy said the candidates were not actively training when they reported the symptoms and nothing alarming had happened during Hell Week, FOX 5 of San Diego reported.
NAVY SEAL CANDIDATE DEAD AFTER COMPLETING ‘HELL WEEK’ TRAINING IN CALIFORNIA
“And I think the secretary wants to make sure he gives the Navy the time to look at this carefully and thoughtfully before coming to any kind of conclusions,” Kirby added. “Obviously, you know, one such accident is one too many. We just don’t know. We just don’t know what happened here.”
Naval Special Warfare Command has opened an investigation into Mullen’s death.
Regarding whether the expectations for Navy SEAL training are too rigorous, Kirby said, “The training has to be demanding, given the work that our Navy SEALs do on behalf of this country every single day. So you would expect the standards to be very, very high for their readiness. “
Kirby added that the two things that should be focused on presently are supporting the grieving family and giving the Navy time to investigate the situation surrounding the death to figure out what happened.
“I think it would be not only premature, but it would be irresponsible to get ahead of that process at this point,” Kirby added.
Navy SEAL candidates who undergo Hell Week get approximately four hours of sleep in five and half days. They are also expected to do everything from carrying logs and rubber boats over their heads to rock portage on the beach to lying in frigid ocean water.
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Only about a quarter of candidates successfully make it through “Hell Week” each year, according to NavySEALs.com, with many voluntarily quitting.
Gadget Clock’ Jessica Chasmar contributed to this report.