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Autopsy concludes Manalapan SEAL trainee died of pneumonia

MANALAPAN — Kyle Mullen, 24, the Manalapan native who died in California on Feb. 4 as he was training to become a U.S. Navy SEAL, passed away from “acute pneumonia due to Streptococcus pyogenes (a type of bacteria),” according to an autopsy report his mother, Regina Mullen, received from the Navy.

Kyle Mullen, a 2015 graduate of Manalapan High School, was a SEAL candidate assigned to Naval Special Warfare Basic Training Command in California at the time of his passing.

Regina Mullen provided a copy of her son’s autopsy report to Newspaper Media Group.

The autopsy report was prepared by Wendy Warren, DO, a U.S. Army regional medical examiner.

According to the documents Mullen provided, an autopsy on her son was conducted on Feb. 7.

The document states that “By report, this sailor (Mullen) had completed Hell Week and was being looked after by non-medical personnel to help him tend to his basic needs.

“He was in a wheelchair most of the time, unable to stand and walk on his own. He had reportedly been coughing/spitting up red-tinged fluid which had nearly filled a 36-ounce sports drink bottle.

“One of the other SEAL candidates had requested medical attention due to feeling like he (the second candidate) couldn’t breathe. As emergency medical personnel were summoned for that (second) sailor, (Mullen) became unresponsive.

“When the ambulance crew arrived, they shifted their attention to Seaman Mullen and transported him to the hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased,” according to the autopsy report.

Warren’s concluding opinion states that Mullen “died of acute pneumonia due to Streptococcus pyogenes. (Mullen’s) cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) was considered a contributing factor in his death.

“Given the extent of the lung infection, sepsis is likely (no blood culture to confirm); however, even in the absence of sepsis, the pathogen involved in this case, group A strep, is capable of causing multi-organ failure and cardiovascular collapse via toxic shock. The toxicology screen is negative. Based on the investigative and autopsy findings, the manner of death is natural,” Warren wrote.

Regina Mullen offered the following comment regarding her son’s autopsy results: “This is a national disgrace how the SEAL BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition) medical was so incompetent to not detect pneumonia and how any commander would allow the BUD/S medical to be off-base (and) to only be on-call after what all those men endured during Hell Week.

“The men were told never to go to the Navy ER (emergency room), it’s Hell Week and they would be dropped from the SEALs. A call was made to them hours after Kyle (was found) in pain and severely struggling to breath.

“Whoever answered that phone had a responsibility to either get my son help or to tell him to get to the ER to save his life. Instead my son was threatened that the young men who called would be in trouble and Kyle would face being dropped. There is no way my son should have to be faced with that decision.

“The SEALs were teaching that going to (seek) medical (attention) is weak. After proving himself and being a hero, one would think the Navy would do everything possible medically to ensure the survival of all the men instead of (providing) no medical monitoring and being left to die in a disgusting barracks,” Mullen said.

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