Navy SEAL from Livonia dies following accident

Holly Fournier and Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

A Livonia Navy SEAL died Sunday following a swimming pool physical fitness training accident at a base in southern Virginia, according to Navy officials.

Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Brett Allen Marihugh, 34, died Friday when he was discovered unresponsive at the bottom of the Combat Swimmer Training Facility pool on Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, officials said in a statement.

One of his best friends, 32-year-old Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Seth Cody Lewis of Queens, New York, also was found in the pool and died.

"We are all deeply saddened by Brett's passing and would ask for your thoughts, prayers and support for the Marihugh and Lewis family, NSW community, and our friends and teammates at this time," Capt. Pete Vasely, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group TWO, said in a statement. "Both of these fierce warriors were admired and highly respected among everyone who knew them. We will continue to investigate what happened. We owe it to the families and our teammates."

Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Seth Cody Lewis

Both men served in the U.S. Marine Corps before entering the Navy in December of 2006, officials said.

Marihugh served in the Marine Corps from 1999 until 2003 and Lewis served from 2001 until 2005. They completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in Coronado, California, in October 2007.

Marihugh would have celebrated his 35th birthday at the end of the month. His family said between his time with the Marines and the Navy, he worked at the Oakland County Sheriff's Office. His childhood nickname was "Hooter," and it stuck into adulthood.

On the department Facebook page, the Oakland County Sheriff's Office posted Marihugh's photo with, "RIP Navy SEAL Brett Marihugh. He was a deputy with our Sheriff's Office and left to return to active military service."

Undersheriff Mike McCabe said Marihugh was a corrections deputy for a little less than a year between 2005-06. During that short time, he made a name for himself and was handpicked by the sheriff to go into a rigorous training program to become a drill instructor, but he left to join the Seals.

"He did stay in contact with several people here," said McCabe. "We're all praying for his family."

Marihugh earned multiple awards and decorations, including the Bronze Star, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V in support of the global war on terrorism. His family said he was a trained medic.

Marihugh attended Livonia-Stevenson High School. Teachers declined to comment.

Marihugh is survived by his father, Michael Marihugh; mother, Sandra Murray; sisters, Sheradyn and Meghan, and stepmother, Zona.

Lewis made multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, earning the Bronze Star with Combat Valor, Purple Heart, U.S. Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Valor and Achievement Medal with Valor, as well as additional campaign and service medals.

He is survived by his wife, Kristy, and dogs Baby, Kona and Lyla.

An investigation of the incident is continuing.