WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — A vehicle loaded with West Point cadets on summer training overturned on a dirt road Thursday, killing one cadet and injuring 22 other passengers, according to the U.S. Military Academy.
Twenty cadets and two soldiers were injured when their light medium tactical vehicle overturned around 6:45 a.m. off Route 293, said Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt. The vehicle, a military truck that can carry personnel, had two people in the front cab and the rest in the back.
Helicopter footage from WNBC showed a truck flipped over in a wooded area.
Ophardt could not provide information on the severity of the injuries. The injured were taken to hospitals.
The cadet who was killed was later identified as Christopher J. Morgan, a member of the class of 2020.
The 22-year-old from West Orange, New Jersey was a law and legal studies major, and a member of the Army Wrestling Team.
“Cadet Morgan was a valued member of the Corps of Cadets and will be missed by all. The entire community is ensuring that our cadets are being cared for physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th Superintendent, U. S. Military Academy. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Morgan family.”
“We are devastated by the news of Chris’ passing. He was a talented, hardworking, and determined athlete who loved his sport,” said Army West Point Wrestling Coach Kevin Ward. “Chris had an infectious personality with a smile big enough to fill any room, and a heart big enough to love everyone around him. He made everyone around him better and he will be greatly missed.”
Speaking on WAMC public radio Thursday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of fatalities could increase based on what he has been told.
“These are young people who are dedicating their lives,” said Cuomo. “It’s the anniversary of D-Day . It really is a sad, sad moment.”
Here is a statement released by Cuomo:
“My heart breaks for all those involved in the tragic training accident at West Point this morning. These courageous cadets and soldiers represent the best of New York State and our country, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their bravery in choosing to serve our country and protect our freedoms. This incident is made all the more heart wrenching as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day today, a day where we remember those who gave their lives for our country.
I am grateful to the first responders who are on the scene right now and am directing the State Office of Emergency Management to provide any resources necessary to assist.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, we pray for a speedy recovery for those involved and we share in the sorrow experienced by their loved ones during this extremely difficult time.”
Classes ended at West Point last month, but the academy runs summer military training exercises for cadets in the heavily wooded hills outside the main gates. The rollover occurred on a fire break road as the vehicle was leaving Camp Natural Bridge, where trainees live during the summer.
Ophardt said the investigation of the cause of the single-vehicle accident was continuing.
West Point is on the Hudson River about 50 miles north of New York City.
It was the second cadet death at West Point this year. Cadet Peter Zhu died in February after a skiing accident. His parents made headlines afterward for their successful legal effort to retrieve his frozen sperm.
President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday afternoon: “So sorry to hear about the terrible accident involving our GREAT West Point Cadets. We mourn the loss of life and pray for the injured. God Bless them ALL!”
Here is an update given by officials on Thursday morning: