Virginia Beach Navy SEAL Dies Days After Being Wounded in Training Exercise

by Jennifer Shea

A Navy SEAL lost his life in a training exercise on Saturday (12/4), the Naval Special Warfare Command announced Tuesday. His identity remains under wraps while the Navy notifies his next of kin.

The SEAL was a member of SEAL Team 8. He had been participating in training exercises at the Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Virginia Beach when there was some sort of accident, the Daily Mail reports. The SEAL suffered grave injuries. So the Navy sent him to Norfolk Sentara General Hospital.

Tragically, he died three days later.

Navy SEAL Training Exercises Can Be Dangerous

The Navy said it is currently investigating the accident. But it is also reaching out to support the late SEAL’s family and his fellow sailors.

“Naval Special Warfare is committed to supporting the service member’s family, and our Sailors who lost a teammate during this difficult time,” Lieutenant Commander Kara Handley said in a statement. “The details of the tragic accident are currently under investigation… Findings will be made available at the appropriate time.”

There are eight operational platoons in SEAL Team 8, plus a headquarters. The team serves in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Mediterranean. When active, platoons aid the 2nd, 5th and 6th fleets with amphibious ships and carrier battle groups.

The SEALs have to make it through a notoriously difficult training program. And the program has had its share of deadly accidents.

From 2013 to 2016, nine Navy SEALs died in training exercises. That’s compared to four fatalities in combat during the same period, per USA Today.

In One 2016 Case, Students Claimed a SEAL Was Held Underwater

The Navy SEALs’ training exercises aim to train them for every situation. But some have wondered if the exercises sometimes go too far. In 2016, 21-year-old trainee James Derek Lovelace died in a pool at a SEAL training facility in Coronado, California. SEAL students who were present at the time and a former SEAL who became a coach there alleged that Lovelace passed out after an instructor held him underwater.

A report from NBC News and the Virginian-Pilot questioned the Navy’s official explanation, which was that Lovelace had trouble swimming and noted that early autopsy findings by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office suggested that Lovelace drowned.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the death. But in 2017, the Navy’s Special Warfare Command determined that Lovelace’s death was not a crime based on the results of that investigation. And so, the Navy declined to pursue criminal charges against his instructor.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Lovelace family,” Cmdr. Liam Hulin, who made the decision, said in a statement. “No loss of life in training is an acceptable loss.”