Girlfriend Searches For Answers After Trainee Navy SEAL's Death is Ruled a Homicide: 'We Don't Know What Happened'
The girlfriend of the Navy SEAL who died during his first grueling week of training for the elite military division is speaking out.
In May, 21-year old Navy seaman Derek Lovelace died during the intense SEAL training. At first, his death was listed as an accidental drowning, but in early July, a medical examiner found it was a homicide.
Inside Edition sat down with the family's Tallahassee attorney Ryan Andrews, as well as Lovelace's girlfriend, Rachel Richardson. The pair were childhood sweethearts since the 8th grade.
"What do we believe? We don't know what really happened,” she told Inside Edition.
The Navy claims he drowned in a freak accident in a swimming pool during an exhausting exercise near San Diego and told his family that his heart just stopped.
The Navy also reportedly claims that he was “not a strong swimmer," which made his sister Kaysi suspicious. She knew him to be a great in the water and overall driven athlete.
For years, he swam on the Florida panhandle near Pensacola. Sometime he would wear a bulky 75-pound weighted vest when he was in the water. When he wasn't swimming, he ran and lifted weights.
Richardson told Inside Edition: "I asked him, 'Why are you doing this, Derek?' He said 'I want to go fight bad guys.’ That was his only intention, to go fight bad guys."
The family's suspicions about Lovelace’s death were confirmed last month when the San Diego Medical Examiner released a shocking autopsy report.
The coroner described Navy surveillance video he obtained from the swimming pool during the final minutes of the young man’s life. What he saw was gut-wrenching.
The coroner wrote: “[Lovelace] appears to be struggling" after an instructor dunks [him] underwater. For five minutes the instructor follows [him] around the pool, yelling at him and dunks him at least one additional time.”
According to several witnesses in the coroner's report, Lovelace’s “face was purple and his lips were blue.” Finally, he was pulled out of the pool but he stopped breathing and died moments later.
The medical examiner found that the young trainee was a victim of homicide.
Richardson told Inside Edition: “I'd be more OK with this situation if he came back dead at the hands of the enemy. Instead, I have to deal with the fact that he was killed by his own instructors.”
No one has been charged. The Navy won't comment on the coroner's report but says they are conducting an investigation and have taken steps to reinforce safety procedures. Meanwhile, Lovelace’s girlfriend says she's lost the love of her life.
An emotional Richardson said that being a SEAL "was his lifelong dream."
She added that Lovelace "was so passionate. And that was taken away from him."