Investigation: Coast Guard training death

March 10, 2011 5:10:39 PM PST
A young man from New York drowned during anti-terrorism training with the Coast Guard, and now his parents are looking for answers.

He was months from being married.

It was supposed to have been Petty Officer Shaun Lin's wedding; instead, it is his funeral.

"My son made so many achievements and done so many things for the Coast Guard," said Marion White, Officer Lin's mother.

Last October, the 23-year-old Coast Guard member from New York was training in anti-terrorism drill in the Chesapeake Bay, an exercise in which a team hooks ladders onto the side of a vessel to recapture a ship taken over by terrorists.

During that climb, Petty Officer Lin, carrying 60 pounds of gear, fell into the water.

The Coast Guard found his body 19 hours later:

"Nobody rescued him. Nobody! They watch a man die? I myself would have jumped in the water. I think any human would have jumped in," White said.

That her son drowned surrounded by Coast Guard vessels filled with skilled rescuers and while wearing a life-saving flotation device haunts Shaun Lin's mother.

"I don't see it as accidental drowning. It was an accident that my son slipped, it wasn't an accident that my son died," White said.

She realized that Shaun's death wasn't an accident when she obtained the autopsy report which showed her son died because his "flotation device" failed to ''inflate'', the Medical Examiner added the "canister that inflates the device was not present."

"I read it quite a few times and right after reading it I questioned them as to how a piece of equipment that important could be missing, and they told me that they couldn't answer that question, that it was under investigation," White said.

The Coast Guard tells Eyewitness News that they are conducting a full investigation of the incident.

A spokesman says some of its anti-terrorism training has also been suspended while equipment in their tactical units are inspected.

The Coast Guard gave Lin a full military burial, but his mother wants a full accounting of what ended the promising life of her oldest child.

"I would never give up that's my son. There's a hole in my heart forever. Not until I know what happened," White said.

The death of Petty Officer Lin marked the 14th fatality of a Coast Guard member in a training accident since 2007.

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