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Navy SEAL Candidate And New Jersey Native Kyle Mullen Dies After 'Hell Week' Training In San Diego

MANALAPAN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Kyle Mullen, a 24-year-old Navy SEAL candidate from New Jersey, tragically died hours after finishing a grueling training program in San Diego.

Mullen was from Manalapan.

Gov. Phil Murphy called Mullen "a legend." That's how his former coaches and teachers are remembering him too, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday.

The U.S. Navy flag on the Manalapan Veterans Monument was flying at half staff.

Neighbors felt Mullen's loss as if he were their own son.

"I feel so horrible about it, that he's so young and it's such a promising career," Martha Mansicalco said.

Another neighbor said the former Yale University football player and his older brother always helped shovel snow. He spoke with Mullen's mom in December.

"She mentioned what he was aiming for and it made her a little nervous. But she was behind him because he wanted to do something," Kevin O'Donnell said.

The Navy said Mullen died at a California hospital on Feb. 4 and that it was investigating the cause. Mullen's death did not occur during a training session.

Hours before his death, Mullen completed "Hell Week," an intense program used to select Navy SEALS that involves survival and combat tactics, which only about 25% of candidates pass through.

Gov. Murphy spoke with Mullen's family Monday morning.

"He represented the very, very best of our state and our country. He was a guy my family knew remotely by reputation," Murphy said. "He was a legend, in athletics and all walks of life."

Mullen's football coach at Manalapan High School shared a video of him catching a touchdown pass that helped the school win its first state championship.

Kyle Mullen 13-yard TD catch for Manalapan to seal the win by Shore Sports Network on YouTube

Another video showed Mullen mentoring youth at his alma mater.

"Outstanding young man. He was an outstanding student. He had a 4.4 GPA, he was a member of the National Honor Society," Coach Ed Gurrieri said.

After attending Yale for three years, Mullen transferred to Monmouth University to play football and study psychology.

"He was such a nice kid," Dr. Janice Stapley, Mullen's adviser and psychology professor at Monmouth, said. "He was just really an amazing student and insightful person about understanding other people's emotions and leadership."

In a statement, Monmouth University Head Football Coach Kevin Callahan said:

We are all saddened by the unfortunate passing of Kyle Mullen. As a member of our 2019 championship team, he will be remembered not just as an excellent player, but also as an excellent person and a great teammate. He was highly motivated on the field, but his maturity, intelligence, and concern for his fellow teammates is what stands out about Kyle. On behalf of President Leahy and the entire Monmouth University community, we wish to offer condolences to the Mullen Family on their loss.

Manalapan High School plans to retire Mullen's football jersey number 44.

The governor said he'll make an announcement soon about flying flags at half staff statewide to remember Mullen's sacrifice for the country.

Editor's note: This story first appeared on Feb. 7

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