first published on July 6, 2016 by Will
A San Diego medical examiner’s report labeled the May 6 death of Seaman James Derek Lovelace, 21, a homicide, as a result of being repeatedly dunked under water by an instructor.
“Although the manner of death could be considered by some as an accident, especially given that the decedent was in a rigorous training program that was meant to simulate an ‘adverse’ environment, it is our opinion that the actions, and inactions, of the instructors and other individuals involved were excessive and directly contributed to the death, and the manner of death is best classified as homicide,” as written by the medical examiner.
Initially, the Navy reported the death as the result of a training mishap, but following an investigation by NBC News and The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, sources came forward saying the death was because of an instructor using extreme measures during training.
It was reported, and apparently recorded on video, that the instructor continuously dunked the struggling trainee over the course of five minutes during a water treading exercise in which the recruits wear boots and battle fatigues. According to the rules, the instructors are not allowed to dunk or pull trainees under water during the exercise.
The instructor in question continued to work for several more days, and was only relieved of duty after the NBC report was published. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is currently investigating the incident, and will not comment on the likely action that will be taken until after the investigation concludes.