Mom wants answers long after son’s death at Navy ‘Hell Week’

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(NewsNation) —  Nearly seven months after a man’s death during Navy SEAL training, his mother is still waiting for answers about what happened. And she wants the Pentagon to make changes.  

Kyle Mullen, a 24-year-old Navy SEAL candidate, died Feb. 4 during the Navy’s brutal training period, often known as “Hell Week,” in California.

As smart as he was athletic, Mullen lettered six times in football and basketball at his New Jersey high school. He seemed like the perfect candidate to join the elite fighting force, but his mother begged him not to sign up.

“I didn’t want him to go,” said Regina Mullen, Kyle’s mother. “I begged him not to go there. I just didn’t want anything to happen to my son. I said, ‘The Navy’s going to kill you’ before he left and he said, ‘Now, mommy, you’re being ridiculous.’”

Sure enough, something went wrong during the training. Regina Mullen says her son was in respiratory distress and help was not called.

As a registered nurse, she’s convinced she know exactly what he died from: Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema, a form of pneumonia caused by water buildup in the respiratory system.

“He was found spitting up blood and in pain from breathing, barely breathing. They’re very discouraged to call 911. He asked to lay down, and he died in a 19-year-old boy’s arms. He turned blue,” Regina Mullen said.

Mullen says her son confided in her that fellow trainees were relying on performance-enhancing drugs to get through, and that steroids were a widespread problem in the SEAL program that the Navy ignores. She says her son’s toxicology reports came out negative.

In response to a NewsNation request, the Naval Special Warfare Command says in part that “Multiple independent investigations are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding Seaman Kyle Mullen’s death. Until the investigations are complete, it is inappropriate to speculate on the cause of death or contributing factors.”

Now, Regina Mullen feels like she must make the world know about her son’s story and try to make a difference.

“They have an independent investigation because they investigate themselves. I said, ‘That’s like having a mob family investigate themselves.’ If your son died, would you want someone to get a slap on the hand and move to a different department or something? No, you’d want them held accountable,” she said.

There is expected to be a report released with details on Kyle Mullen’s death.

Regina Mullen hopes it reveals the following: “I hope it’s that he didn’t get medically treated for hours and days and he had a slow, torturous death. That’s the main reason why he died. The steroid problem is there as a separate issue. He didn’t do it. My son wasn’t doing it. He was aware of it, and that’s probably why he was tortured extra because the other men who do the steroids can recover quicker. Maybe it makes them faster or what have you, and he was a natural athlete so they were trying to beat him down, to break him and he would not break.”

The report is slated to be unveiled in the fall.

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