Tags: james derek lovelace | navy | seal | drowning | homicide

James Derek Lovelace: SEAL Trainee's Drowning a Homicide

Image: James Derek Lovelace: SEAL Trainee's Drowning a Homicide
(Naval Special Warfare Center via AP, File)

By    |   Thursday, 07 Jul 2016 09:05 AM

The death of James Derek Lovelace, a Navy SEAL trainee who drowned in May, was ruled a homicide on Wednesday by the San Diego County Medical Examiner because of the "actions or inactions, of the instructors and other individuals," reported the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Lovelace, 21, drowned during a "combat" pool exercise after he was repeatedly dunked underwater during a five-minute period, noted the Union-Tribune. The coroner's report said the exercise continued even after instructors saw that Lovelace was struggling.

The coroner's report said Lovelace had a heart abnormality that may have been a contributing factor. The Union-Tribune said the Navy was investigating the incident to determine if charges will be filed.

"It is important to understand that 'homicide' refers to 'death at the hands of another' and a homicide is not inherently a crime," a Navy statement said Wednesday.

"The autopsy report does not signal that the Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into Seaman Lovelace's death has culminated, or that conclusions have been reached regarding criminal culpability." 

The Navy Times said the coroner's report added that instructors harassed and splashed Lovelace after they saw he was struggling to swim the length of the pool in utilities and boots. The harassment included dunking his head underwater at least twice.

The coroner's report charged that the instructors' actions were "excessive," even though acknowledging Lovelace was participating in one of the military's most intensive training regimens.

"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," said Dr. Kimi Verilhac, a forensic pathologist, in the report.

The Union-Tribune said the Navy SEAL command in Coronado, where all Navy SEAL candidates attend Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, has added training on symptoms of water injuries since Lovelace's death.

Lovelace completed Navy basic training on Jan. 28, 2016, after playing collegiate baseball at Faulkner State Community College in Alabama, according to his obituary.

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The death of James Derek Lovelace, a Navy SEAL trainee who drowned in May, was ruled a homicide on Wednesday by the San Diego County Medical Examiner because of the "actions or inactions, of the instructors and other individuals."
james derek lovelace, navy, seal, drowning, homicide
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2016-05-07
Thursday, 07 Jul 2016 09:05 AM
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