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Coroner expected to rule Navy SEAL trainee's death "drowning homicide"

Coroner Report On SEAL Death
Coroner Report On SEAL Death 00:40

The San Diego coroner is expected to issue a report that calls the death of a Navy SEAL trainee a "drowning homicide," CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin reported.

That's not a finding of murder but it is a conclusion that James "Derek" Lovelace died not by accident, but "at the hands of others."

Navy officials expect charges to be brought against at least one of the Navy SEALs supervising Lovelace's training.

U.S. Navy Seaman James "Derek" Lovelace, a 21-year-old Navy SEAL trainee, is seen in this undated photo released by the Naval Special Warfare Center.
U.S. Navy Seaman James "Derek" Lovelace, a 21-year-old Navy SEAL trainee, is seen in this undated photo released by the Naval Special Warfare Center. Naval Special Warfare Center via AP

The 21-year-old Lovelace lost consciousness during a swimming drill on May 6 in Coronado, Calif.

Naval Special Warfare Center spokesman Lt. Trevor Davids said at the time Lovelace was pulled out of a pool after showing signs he was having difficulty while treading water in a camouflage uniform and a dive mask. He was taken to a civilian hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Davids said.

Lovelace was in his first week of training as a SEAL trainee after joining the Navy about six months ago, Davids said. The exercise is designed to assess students' competency, confidence and safety in the water, according to the Navy.

Lovelace was born in Germany, and he dreamed of becoming a SEAL, according to a death announcement from Whitehurst Powell Funeral Home and Southern Heritage Crematory in his home town of Crestview, Florida. His death was first reported by NBC News and The Virginian-Pilot.

He enjoyed any activity on the water and played baseball at Crestview High School and Faulkner State Community College in Bay Minette, Alabama, according to the death announcement.

Lovelace joined the Navy and graduated basic training on Jan. 28, 2016, in Great Lakes, Illinois. His awards and decorations include the National Defense Ribbon and Sharpshooter Pistol Qualification.

"I don't know what to say. He was wonderful," his sobbing grandmother, Jan Pugh, told The Virginian-Pilot. "It was a dream he was chasing out there. He was determined to become a SEAL. We are all just in shock."

His mother, Katie Lovelace, died in June 2015 at the age of 44, according to the two media outlets. He is survived by his father and two sisters.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of SN Lovelace," said Capt. Jay Hennessey, commanding officer of the Naval Special Warfare Center. "Though Derek was very new to our community, he selflessly answered his nation's call to defend freedom and protect this country. He will be sorely missed. We share in his family's grief from this great loss."

Lovelace's death came only days after another Coronado-based SEAL -- Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Keating IV -- was shot and killed during a gunbattle involving fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in Iraq.

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