A Navy SEAL candidate died just hours after completing the service’s grueling “Hell Week” test, the U.S. Navy said on Saturday. A second SEAL candidate was also hospitalized.
According to a press release from the Naval Special Warfare Command, one candidate was transported to Sharp Coronado Hospital in Coronado, California, on Feb. 4 where he later died. The other candidate remains in stable condition at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
“Two Navy SEAL candidates, assigned to Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command, were taken to the hospital on Feb. 4 several hours after their Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) class successfully completed Hell Week, part of the first phase of the Navy SEAL assessment and selection pathway,” the Navy said.
The Navy said the Sailors were not actively training when they fell ill.
“The cause of the candidate’s death is currently unknown and is under investigation,” the Navy said.
The branch added that the deceased SEAL candidate’s family has been notified, but his name is being withheld due to Navy policy that requires 24 hours after next-of-kin notification is complete before a name is publicly released.
The Hell Week test is part of the Navy SEALs BUD/S class, which includes basic underwater demolition training, as well as survival and other combat strategies. The test occurs in a SEAL candidate’s fourth week as part of an assessment to determine if they will be selected for Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command training.
“SEAL training takes you beyond your personal limits,” Eric Oehlerich, a retired SEAL, told ABC News. “It’s designed to push you beyond your perception of what’s possible, breaking glass ceilings of what you’re capable of both mentally and physically.”
“From time to time training fatalities do occur. Although tragic, adhering to the training curriculum keeps SEALs alive in combat. It’s necessary, it can’t be diluted,” he added. “Condolences to the family of the trainee. They’ll always be a part of the community and we will always be there as able.”
The last SEAL candidate to die during Hell Week was Seaman James Derek Lovelace of Crestview, Florida, in May 2016.
During a pool exercise, Lovelace was pulled from the water and taken to a civilian hospital, Naval Special Warfare Center spokesman Lt. Trevor Davids said.
In a statement, the Navy said, “He was aided to the edge of the pool by instructors where he then lost consciousness. Resuscitation efforts and first aid at the scene were unsuccessful.” During the exercise, Lovelace and Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training Class 319 had to tread water in camouflage uniforms and dive masks.