A 20-year-old West Point cadet candidate died on Saturday after falling from a cliff at a popular diving site in upstate New York.
Benjamin Bochtler, a student at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in West Point, was hanging from a rock ledge when it broke and sent him plummeting several feet, according to CNN and a statement from West Point. Life-saving measures at the scene were unsuccessful, West Point said.
“Cadet Candidate Bochtler had an incredible smile and infectious positive attitude. He was everyone’s friend,” school commandant Col. Joshua Higgins said in the West Point statement. “His warm personality and that big smile made a lasting impact on everyone at USMAPS.”
Bochtler, of Bellevue, Nebraska, and a friend drove up to Fawn’s Leap in Hunter, according to West Point and WCBS. Fawn’s Leap has been called one of the most “thrilling” spots for cliff-jumping in New York. The picturesque Catskills location is a favorite among cliff jumpers who take the 24-foot leap into the waters below.
It is unclear whether Bochtler fell into the water.
“I would like to thank the New York State Police and the first responders that attempted to save Ben’s life,” Higgins added in the statement.
Bochtler entered the school in July 2019 after being deployed to Afghanistan from April 2018 to January 2019.
Bochtler’s entrance came just weeks after one cadet was killed and 22 more were injured when a tactical vehicle overturned near the U.S. Military Academy training site in Orange County on June 6.
Christopher J. Morgan, a 22-year-old from West Orange, New Jersey, died in the accident.
West Point said in a statement then that Morgan was a Law and Legal Studies major and a recruited athlete who was a “standout member of the Army Wrestling Team.”
“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 in the statement. “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.”