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Navy SEAL dies in free-fall parachute training accident

US Navy

(CNN) -- A Navy SEAL died over the weekend after taking part in a free-fall parachute training, according to a statement from Naval Special Warfare Command.

Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael Ernst was participating in the training on Sunday in Arizona when the accident occurred. Ernst was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead Sunday afternoon.

The incident is under investigation, and the Navy said it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time. In military free-fall training, service members learn and practice different parachuting techniques, which may include opening the parachute at high or low altitudes.

"Mike was an exceptional teammate. He was a dedicated NSW Sailor who applied his talents and skills towards some of our nation's hardest challenges, while selflessly mentoring his teammates," said Rear Adm. Keith Davids, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command. "Mike and his family will always be part of the NSW family, and he will never be forgotten."

Ernst enlisted in the Navy in 2009 and attended SEAL training a year later.

After completing the training, he spent much of the last decade assigned to an East Coast Special Warfare Unit. He was awarded the Silver Star, the military's third-highest decoration for valor in combat, as well as a number of other awards and decorations.

The Navy is also investigating the death of another SEAL during training.

In December 2021, Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois, the commander of SEAL Team 8, died from injuries he suffered during a fast-rope training exercise, which involves descending quickly on a rope from an aerial platform such as a helicopter.

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