"What happened to this family is tragic enough ... the Lovelace family is at the very least entitled to the dignity and respect of a determination as to whether Derek died in the line of duty."
CRESTVIEW — More than a year after a young Crestview man was killed in a Navy SEALs training accident, his family is still fighting for answers.
James Derek Lovelace was just 21 when he died May 6, 2016 in a Navy SEALs training facility. According to news reports, he was pushed underwater at least twice by an instructor during his first week of Navy Seal basic training in California.
At the time, he was trying to tread water in full gear.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner ruled his death a homicide, but Lovelace's family was notified in April that no criminal charges would be filed against the instructor.
At that time, the family was told the investigation would be closed immediately, according to the family's attorney, Ryan Andrews. Part of that closure would be the Navy ruling that Lovelace died in the line of duty, an important distinction, he said.
But four months later, that has not been done.
Last week, Andrews sent a letter to the deputy director of the Navy Casualty Office, asking why that key piece of the investigation remained incomplete.
"Four months later, (his dad) Jim Lovelace still has (not) been provided any information, update or final reports for the LOD determination and investigation concerning his son, Derek," he wrote. "This is both offensive and regrettable, especially in light of the representations which were made directly to Jim Lovelace in his home in Crestview, Florida earlier this year."
Andrews asked for the deputy director to provide a number of items within 10 days of the receipt of the letter. Included on that list were the cause and reason for the delay in establishing that Derek was killed in the line of duty.
"What happened to this family is tragic enough ... the Lovelace family is at the very least entitled to the dignity and respect of a determination as to whether Derek died in the line of duty," he wrote.
Andrews said the U.S. Attorney's Office is still investigating and that they have not received any indication of the direction that is heading.