Kyle Mullen’s mom says the Navy let her son down during Hell Week
MANALAPAN — The mother of fallen Navy SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen has had to wait more than two months after her son’s sudden death during training.
The 24-year-old Manalapan native died in early February, just hours after completing the grueling five-day test dubbed ‘Hell Week’ at US Naval Base San Diego.
Regina Mullen, a registered nurse, said she had since discovered that her son was on oxygen and coughing up blood by the time he completed the first phase of assessment and selection for the elite sub-demolition class. navy/SEAL (BUD/S).
Eleven weeks later, however, the Navy medical examiner’s report is still not complete.
Adding to the frustrations, the circumstances surrounding Kyle Mullen’s death are only being investigated internally through the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
U.S. Representative Andy Kim, DN.J 3rd District, pleaded for a separate investigation into Kyle Mullen’s death, writing April 14 to Department of Defense Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell.
O’ Donnell declined to open a separate investigation until NCIS completed its own review, Mullen said.
On Monday, Regina said she called the Navy Medical Examiner’s Office and was told additional tests were being done for steroids.
She said when she disputed it was a potential cause of death and demanded answers, the official hung up on her.
No medical follow-up
If Kyle Mullen had been medically monitored and intubated if necessary after the test, “My son would be alive today,” Regina Mullen said.
The other young man who was in critical condition when his son died “had severe pneumonia and was intubated for 24 hours – my son had the same condition,” she said.
“I heard him on the phone when he called me that day, I was worried. I think he’s being watched and taken care of – no he wasn’t. He died around four hours later,” Regina Mullen told New Jersey 101.5.
“He went through all that aggressive training – no sleep, freezing cold. The least they could have done was really get him under control, and all those boys, those men – those young men – who made it through should have been under medical observation for at least 24 hours. They just asked her, are you okay,” she continued.
Instead of a hospital bed, Kyle Mullen was in a mattress on the floor of an army barracks when first responders were called the day he died, Regina Mullen told Asbury Park Press first and also at New Jersey 101.5.
He died in the arms of a 19-year-old sailor – not a doctor – but was pronounced dead at an area hospital, she said.
Based on her professional training and conversations she’s had with Mullen’s other SEAL candidates, Regina Mullen is convinced that her son has developed swimming-induced pulmonary edema, or SIPE, which is an accumulation of fluid in lungs.
In an interview with ABC News last month, Mullen said her son had already been treated for SIPE during training in January and had been treated with oxygen twice during his last rigorous five-day test, including including the day of his death.
“They say they did a pulse beef, but that would be impossible,” Regina Mullen said.
Pulse oximetry is a test used to measure the oxygen level (oxygen saturation) of a person’s blood.
She said part of the problem is that she now seems discouraged from seeking a medical evaluation during the test.
During “week from hell” around this time, the only way to see a doctor is to “ring the bell” used to mean resign, she continued – something none of these candidates want to do, making it a national problem.
“The stories I hear from other mothers – what they have to do with their young boys, luckily they’re alive but they’re not getting medical treatment like they should,” Regina Mullen said.
She began urging other members of Congress to support accountability and reform efforts in the Navy SEAL training process.
Kim is one of three New Jersey congressional delegates to the bipartisan House Armed Services Committee.
US Representatives Mikie Sherill and Donald Norcross are also members.
“They shouldn’t have to wait for the NCIS investigation — they should start their own investigation,” Mullen said.
A request for comment from the Navy did not receive an immediate response Monday.
Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at [email protected]
Click here to contact an editor about a comment or correction for this story.
WATCH: States with the most new small businesses per capita
New Jersey’s New Legislative Districts for the 2020s
NJ Diners open 24/7
Inside Whitney Houston’s $1.6 Million Home and Studio
Take a look at the late Whitney Houston’s longtime New Jersey home and studio, now for sale.