The US Navy said Tuesday that a member of SEAL Team 8 died after a training accident over the weekend. On Wednesday, he was identified as Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, a 43-year-old SEAL with more than two decades in the Navy who commanded his SEAL Team.
The sea service revealed that Bourgeois, who received his commission in 2001 from the United States Naval Academy, died at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday from injuries sustained during training three days earlier at Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Naval Special Warfare Command said in a statement that “the details of the tragic accident are currently under investigation and findings will be made available at the appropriate time.” The command noted that “initial indications show that the tragedy occurred during a fast-rope training evolution.”
Fast-roping is an infiltration technique allowing service members to deploy from helicopters in areas where it is unable to land safely.
Navy SEALs, other special operators, and other military personnel can quickly slide down a thick, heavy rope one after another, making it faster than repelling — where the rope is attached to the person — but potentially more dangerous.
Last summer, SOFREP reported that since the start of the Global War on Terror in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, 17 Navy SEALs have died in training accidents.
Naval Special Warfare Command said that following Bourgeois’ death, the SEAL Team 8 executive officer temporarily assumed command.
“Brian was one of our very best leaders, who possessed all the attributes that make our force effective,” Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, who leads Naval Special Warfare Command, said.
“We will miss his charismatic leadership and faithful stewardship of our standard,” he added. ” His legacy carries on in teammates he served with, led, and mentored.”
SEAL Team 8’s area of responsibility, according to Navy Times, is primarily the Caribbean, Africa and the Mediterranean.
“We are working with SEAL Team 8 to provide every form of support we possibly can to Brian’s family and teammates,” Capt. Donald G. Wetherbee, commodore for Naval Special Warfare Group 2, said in a statement.
“An incident like this weighs heavily on us all,” he added. “Brian was as tough as they come, an outstanding leader, and a committed father, husband and friend. This is a great loss to everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed.”