SAN DIEGO, Cal. — The death of Navy SEAL trainee James Derek Lovelace has been deemed a homicide by a Southern California medical examiner, according to the Associated Press (AP). The autopsy revealed that Lovelace had drowned on May 6 of this year, with a heart problem as a contributing factor.
Reports also show that he drowned while being repeatedly dunked by an instructor during a pool exercise, where the 21 year-old trainee was not performing well. Videos reveal that he was dunked at least twice during the course of the exercise.
The claim of homicide by the examiner does not mean that a crime has occurred and the instructor has not been charged. A report from the Navy stated that “Instructors are supposed to create adverse conditions by splashing, making waves and yelling at the students but they are reportedly advised not to dunk or pull students underwater.”
The Navy has taken out time to review its safety protocols and procedures, but it has not changed the pool exercises for Navy SEAL trainees.
In his report, the Medical Examiner wrote that some may consider the death an accident, especially in a “rigorous training program that was meant to simulate an ‘adverse’ environment.” However, “it is our opinion that the actions, and inactions, of the instructors and other individuals involved were excessive and directly contributed to the death,” he stated.
Read the full original report on the AP’s website here.