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Mom shares anguish after sailor son falls to his death from US Navy destroyer

A grieving mother said “nothing can prepare you for this” after her US Navy sailor son was killed by a guided-missile destroyer operating in the Baltic Sea.

Nikki McKeithan Spearman wrote the haunted Facebook post six days after her son David “Dee,” 19, fell overboard from the USS Arleigh Burke, near Helsinki, Finland, on Aug. 1.

A search for his remains has since been called off and further details about the circumstances surrounding the death have not been disclosed.

“Nothing can prepare you for this…I’m on an endless roller coaster, climbing and descending and it wants to stop,” wrote the afflicted mother, who also recently lost her father Dee.

‘I can hardly sleep and when I dare to wake up he grabs me again and swings me around.

“I want to run away and keep everyone close at the same time. I want to control myself and then I lose myself in sheer terror at a drop of a word, song, photo or memory.’

“I can smile when I think of Dee and collapse in the second after,” Spearman continued, “I know that being absent from the body, like a believer in God, is present with the Lord and it calms me down for a moment or even an hour and then I feel this deep, rending squeeze in my body and I can’t control any of my emotions or tears. I am again overcome with such deep sadness and emptiness at the loss of my son.’

“Losing my father and Dee at the same time is beyond my understanding. Knowing that they are together is the only hope and peace I have left,” she added.

Seaman Recuit David 'Dee' Spearman fell overboard from a USS Navy guided-missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea near Helsinki, Finland, on August 1.

Seaman Recuit David ‘Dee’ Spearman fell overboard from a USS Navy guided-missile destroyer in the Baltic Sea near Helsinki, Finland, on August 1.

David's mother, Nikki McKeithan Spearman, shared a grieving post on Facebook on Saturday about the death of her 19-year-old son, saying: 'Nothing can prepare you for this'

David's mother, Nikki McKeithan Spearman, shared a grieving post on Facebook on Saturday about the death of her 19-year-old son, saying: 'Nothing can prepare you for this'

David’s mother, Nikki McKeithan Spearman, shared a grieving post on Facebook on Saturday about the death of her 19-year-old son, saying: ‘Nothing can prepare you for this’

Spearman confirmed the teen's death to the Navy on Aug. 3.  The teen was from Etowah in western North Carolina's Henderson County

Spearman confirmed the teen's death to the Navy on Aug. 3.  The teen was from Etowah in western North Carolina's Henderson County

Spearman confirmed the teen’s death to the Navy on Aug. 3. The teen was from Etowah in western North Carolina’s Henderson County

Spearman’s family confirmed that the North Carolina resident was the sailor who went missing on Aug. 3. The circumstances under which Spearman died remain unclear.

The Navy later said in a statement that David reported to the ship in April after training in Illinois.

He had also just graduated from naval boot camp earlier this year.

“This bright young man made a big positive impression on Arleigh Burke. The thoughts and prayers of my entire crew are with the family and friends of Seaman Recruit Spearman. We offer our sincere condolences for their loss,” said Cmdr. Pete Flynn, the ship’s commander.

WLOS-TV reports that Spearman was from Etowah in Henderson County in western North Carolina.

The family told the TV station that several generations of his family had served in the Navy.

Spearman's family had served in the Navy before the teen's enrollment in November.  Pictured: Spearman with his father (left) and mother (right)

Spearman's family had served in the Navy before the teen's enrollment in November.  Pictured: Spearman with his father (left) and mother (right)

Spearman’s family had served in the Navy before the teen’s enrollment in November. Pictured: Spearman with his father (left) and mother (right)

Circumstances surrounding exactly how Spearman fell overboard are unclear.  Pictured: The USS Arleigh Burke

Circumstances surrounding exactly how Spearman fell overboard are unclear.  Pictured: The USS Arleigh Burke

Circumstances surrounding exactly how Spearman fell overboard are unclear. Pictured: The USS Arleigh Burke

Spearman was officially enlisted on Nov. 10, 2021, according to a statement from the United States Fleet Forces Command.

A search operation near Helsinki, Finland, was called off earlier in the week after the body of the naval sailor was spotted in the water by a bystander.

“Thanks to the Swedish and German navies, the United States Air Force and Arleigh Burke’s sailors for their extensive efforts to save our shipmate, Cmdr. Flynn closed the statement.

Spearman’s body has yet to be recovered, Cmdr. Richlyn Ivey, a spokeswoman for the US 6th Fleet, told Stars and Stripes.

The teen is the second sailor to die on active duty in the past year.

Petty Officer 1st Class Robin Nicole Collins, 26, died on 18 July 2021 while on duty. She was killed after a “shelter roof and chimney collapsed during severe weather,” the Navy Times reported two months later.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has not released any details. The location and cause of death of Collins are unknown, as the investigation remains secret.

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