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Navy SEAL death

 July 7, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Thursday, July 7th.

A SEAL candidate’s death raises questions. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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We all know that home prices in San Diego have been on the rise lately.

Well, a new study by Lending Tree says San Diego County has the fourth highest number of one-million-dollar-and-up homes in the nation.

In the U-S, more than four-percent of all owned homes are valued at one-million-dollars or more.

In San Diego County it's 13.5 percent.

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The state is again trying to place Douglas Badger at a supervised home in San Diego County.

Badger is a sexually violent predator, a designation for those convicted of sexually violent offenses and diagnosed with a mental health disorder that makes them likely to offend.

Last year, the Department of State Hospitals tried to put Badger in a home in Mt. Helix, then in Rancho Bernardo.

But neither placement happened.

This time, the home is in Borrego Springs.

The County Board of Supervisors says it should have veto power over placement decisions.

But ultimately, Supervisor Jim Desmond says it’s up to state lawmakers.

“It’s gotta come down to our folks in Sacramento to change the laws and like I said, the attempt was made by Senator Jones, but maybe we can get the rest of the contingent together.”

A judge will decide whether Badger ends up in Borrego.

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The City of San Diego now has an Office of Immigrant Affairs.

The goal of the new office is to make immigrants feel connected to and supported by their city.

It will promote resources for immigrants and advocate for immigrant rights.

Rita Fernandez, who is Gloria’s current director of global affairs, will serve as the office's first executive director.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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The death of a Navy SEAL candidate in February is raising questions about the safety of basic training.

Kyle Mullen died of pneumonia just after "Hell Week” at the SEALs boot camp in Coronado.

His family recently released an autopsy that concluded he received inadequate medical care even though he was seriously ill.

KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh has the story.

Regina Mullen says she trusted the SEAL’s with her son Kyle’s life and they failed him. Regina Mullen/mother of SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen Regina Mullen “They're torturing our men you can't do that to prisoners of war there's war crimes and they're doing it to our own athletic young bright men that are willing to give up their lives to serve the country they're torturing them it's not training.” Mullen had played football at Yale and Monmouth University. He died February 4th, hours after finishing Hell Week. The endurance test is part of the notoriously difficult SEAL basic training. The autopsy confirms her son was left alone in the barracks with other candidates who also showed signs of being sick. Kyle Mullen was found unresponsive on the barracks floor, after another candidate called for medical help for himself. Regina Mullen "Severe pneumonia there's no way a 24 year old healthy boy should die of severe pneumonia and that's a disgrace that he was not treated for days they knew he had it.” He was found with a 36 ounce bottle filled with his own blood and mucous. The autopsy revealed Mullen died of streptococcus pyogenes - a type of pneumonia often associated with military bases. Regina Mullen is a registered nurse. She says her son was struggling to breathe when he called her a few hours before he died. Regina Mullen “You all knew that my son was compromised. The medical team, the instructors, the lieutenant commander had you all standing around while you see the guy spitting blood. You sent them to the barracks, sent the medical team home and you let them die.” Hell Week is virtually unchanged since at least the 1970s. For nearly a week, candidates are submerged in the Pacific Ocean - forced to continually swim or march with boats on their backs. They get little sleep. Some SEALS say that BY the end, they WERE hallucinating. Regina Mullen says her son was told he could get medical help if he rang A bell three times. But that was also a signal that he wanted to give up. Regina Mullen “It's where you have to ring a bell and then they'll give you medical, and ringing the bell is quitting.” SEAL DOC “That is a game that the instructors play. That's absolutely true that they say stuff like that. It is absolutely UNTRUE that they meant it.” Robert Adams is a medical doctor and former SEAL. He wrote a book about Hell Week. Adams says medical teams are there to monitor candidates, at least DURING the exercise. Robert Adams/retired SEAL, medical doctor SEAL DOC “I've you know, over the years, followed seal training as a physician, looking back and seen numerous reports of pneumonia. Usually it’s somebody that's pulled out of hell week and told you can't go on, you know and they're screaming ``please don't pull me.” If they don’t continue, candidates either leave or they can be “rolled back” to try again with a later class. Mullen had already been rolled back once. Regina Mullen says SEALs told her that instructors liked Kyle and pushed him to finish the last couple days. But she says candidates shouldn't have to decide if they can do it. Regina Mullen “They probably don't even know what day of the week it is. They’re probably having a delirious altered mental status, how can you expect them to make that decision, knowing what their medical condition is?” The US military often talks about training like you fight - Hell week is more of a test of physical and psychological endurance - Instructors try to push candidates past what they think are their limits. Jeff Butler is a former SEAL.. Jeff Butler/former SEAL Jeff Butler "Really the goal of it is to weed out people that aren't going to just have the mental fortitude to not quit when it gets absolutely terrible. I mean guys that will go until they have literally life threatening pneumonia.” Butler’s father was also a SEAL. While warfare has changed dramatically over the decades, Hell Week hasn’t. Jeff Butler It’s a ritual to see who gets to be part of their organization….They considered themselves gatekeepers of who is good enough to be in the Community. That’s how instructors often saw themselves.” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro told Congress in May that after Mullen’s death the SEALs now have medical staff available instead of just on call, after Hell week. His mother says it’s not enough; she says they need an outside investigation. Steve Walsh KPBS News

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Some San Diegans say their water has been tasting funny lately… and it’s not their imagination.

There is something in the water… but the city says it’s not harmful.

KPBS reporter Kitty Alvarado has the details.

Nat sound That’s good water Salud Cheers Michael Simpson, the general manager of Barrio Star restaurant and bar says locals are not just coming in for his delicious Mexican soul food. This lady came in yesterday and she said ‘Oh my God a good glass of water it feels so good’ He says he has a great filtration system but he keeps hearing customers complain about the taste and smell of what is coming out of their faucets in Bankers Hill. A lot of customers that live in the area regulars from the restaurant have mentioned that the water tastes like dirt that it has this aftertaste that is really ugly The City of San Diego says the change in taste and smell is caused by an organic compound called MIB that is not toxic or harmful. The city says the change is only temporary. Kitty Alvarado KPBS News.

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Coming up.... A rise in Covid cases. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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In an all too familiar trend, COVID case numbers are on the rise.

The latest numbers from San Diego County show COVID cases are averaging around 15 hundred a day.

The rise in cases is fueled by the now-dominant BA.5 subvariant

Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute spoke with KPBS‘s Jade Hindmon about the rise in cases and the new variants.

For the third summer in a row we’re being faced with a lot of uncertainties in what we know about the virus… Did you anticipate this rise in cases?

We hear a lot about the need for a better vaccine to address the current sub variants we’re now dealing with… what’s the latest on this?

With variants BA 4 and 5 able to circumvent current vaccines and boosters what do you think a good strategy for immunization should be?

Reinfection has been a major concern… why is this BA.5 so likely to cause a recurrence of COVID in people who have already gone through it?

Can you talk about how multiple COVID infections impact the human body? Does it raise the risk for heart problems, diabetes etc?

TAG: That was Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host Jade Hindmon.

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New technology has made its way into San Diego operating rooms.

KPBS Health reporter Matt Hoffman tells us about a visual enhancement tool that doctors here are using for the first time.

Shoulder surgeries at Scripps Health are taking on a whole new dimension– Dr. Brian Rebolledo, Scripps orthopedic surgeon Bringing VR mixed reality to the operating room has been an interest for a while now Orthopedic Surgeon Brian Rebolledo is the first Scripps doctor to use a mixed reality system for shoulder replacement surgeries.. It’s not virtual reality because doctors can still see what they’re doing. Surgeons wear a headset with special eye-glasses that show holographic surgery models in three dimensions. To the doctor, the operable body part looks like it’s suspended in the air. Rebolledo says precision is key when it comes to shoulder procedures and being able to have a digital reference right in his eyeline helps with complicated operations. Shoulder replacement is in a lot of surgeries a game of millimeters. To be off by just a little bit can really have severe implications Rebolledo successfully completed his first shoulder implant using the mixed-reality system last week. MH KPBS News.

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For some, retirement means traveling the world or spending more time with grandchildren.

But for one San Marcos resident… it means connecting with his roots and building a Viking ship.

KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen brings us his story.

“Scrape, scrape” NATS, sawing Meet Tom Kottmeir. Tom Kottmeir “It doesn’t have to be precise, but if it’s not well fitted it doesn’t look right.” He’s a retired sailor and he’s building a boat … and not just any boat … a Viking ship. Why? Tom Kottmeir / Viking ship builder “because they're very beautiful and excellent sailboats. That's my real motivation. Kottmeir’s love for Viking ships started in 2001 when he and other volunteers helped build a replica Viking ship in Vancouver Canada. He was that ship’s first captain. Tom Kottmeir “I found it such a lovely, excellent sailboat to be on that I thought this would be great to build my own sometime” After talking about it for decades … Kottmeir set about to finally build the ship when he retired in 2018. But he didn’t have the space needed. In early 2020 … he was able to fulfill his dream when The Sons of Norway Lodge in Vista offered to let him build on their property. About a year and a half into the project … Kottmeir made a presentation at the lodge to ask for volunteers to help. That’s where he met Ivar Schoenmeyr … a “semi-retired engineer.” Ivar Schoenmeyr / Viking ship builder I wanted to learn how to build a Viking ship. And what is a Viking club without a Viking ship? I've been waiting for this for five years for someone to come around and say, let's build a Viking ship. Since then Schoenmeyr has been driving down from San Juan Capistrano two days a week. Last fall, the lodge needed the land back to start hosting events again. Kottmeir posted on the Nextdoor app to find a new home for the project. Tom Kottmeir It was amazing. I had 80 responses to the message and ten of them offered space. That’s how the ship ended here in this backyard in Vista. Kottmeir says the family is of Scandinavian descent. STANDUP The ship is called Sleipnir. When it’s all done, there’ll 8 sailors … four on each side. The name came from Norse mythology … Sleipnir is Odin’s eight-legged horse. Kottmeir based the plans on the ship he built in Vancouver … which was a replica of the Gokstad… a 78-foot Viking ship unearthed from an ancient burial mound in Norway in the late 1800s. This is 33ft. Some of the Viking ships were 75 and even more long. And they could carry 50, 60, maybe. Even 100 people on board on long voyages. They carried all the provisions. They carried live animals, cattle and whatnot. It’s a scaled-down version of the Gokstad … which created its own set of problems. Ivar The problem when you scale something like this, like this is almost half scale, is it's Okay length-wise, but people are not half scale. We are stepping into scale both. And that is why we're sitting up, because if there'd be the real Gokstad ship, these boards would be up here, right? And so now we're going to be pretty close to the waters. That will be interesting. When we launch this to see. Are we going to get swamped? Tom K. No, we're not. He's worried about the ship sinking. It's not going to sink. The ship is almost ready for primetime. Kottmeir hopes to have ready for its maiden voyage in San Diego Bay this summer. After its maiden trip, the ship will be shipped to Norway in 2024 so Kottmeir can sail into Stockholm harbor. AN/KPBS

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

The death of a Navy SEAL candidate is raising questions about basic training safety. Meanwhile, some San Diegans say their water tastes funny. Plus, a local health expert on rising COVID cases.