Military.com reports that Capt. Brian Drechsler, Capt. Bradley Geary and Cmdr. Erik Ramey have been informed that they will face a “nonjudicial form of punishment” for their alleged roles in the death of 24-year-old Kyle Mullen.
Rolling Stone reports that Drechsler, Geary and Ramey face charges of dereliction of duty.
The trainee died of pneumonia in February 2022 after completing the Navy’s Hell Week test that pushes candidates to their limits during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training.
An investigation launched after her son’s death found that the program is plagued by inadequate oversight, failures in medical care and use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to the report released Thursday.
A nearly 200-page report compiled by the Naval Education and Training Command concluded flaws in the medical program had the “most direct impact” on the health and well-being of recruits, “specifically” Mullen.
The investigation also found “strong indicators” of performance-enhancing drugs use by “some” SEAL candidates. It recommends establishing a testing program to catch drug users and an education program “to build of culture of integrity and moral character.”
On Feb. 4, 2022, Kyle Mullen had made it through Hell Week, a five-day gauntlet of extreme physical and mental conditioning all SEAL candidates must complete. He called his mother after it was over, and she said he “sounded awful,” out of breath and unable to form his words.
The report says Kyle Mullen was taken to his barracks in a wheelchair after he got off the phone with his mom. Earlier in the day, he was observed coughing up blood and was administered oxygen at least twice.
At the barracks, Mullen “suffered worsening respiratory issues” but declined to go to the hospital. Eventually, 911 was called and he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The report notes that special operations forces are routinely required to carry out high-risk military operations, and thus require demanding training. But it said SEAL instructors in recent years appeared to focus on weeding out candidates, rather than teaching or mentoring.
NewsNation writer Tyler Wornell and The Associated Press contributed to this report.