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One dead, 22 injured in training exercise

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The accident happened at Camp Natural Bridge, a cadet summer training site near the main campus at the U.S. Military Academy.
USA TODAY

WEST POINT, N.Y. – A West Point cadet was killed and 20 fellow cadets and two soldiers injured Thursday when a tactical vehicle overturned in woody, mountainous terrain while en route to a summer training site, according to Army Gen. Darrell K. Williams.

The cadets – all seniors preparing to enter their final year at the U.S. Military Academy – and the soldiers were operating the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle. The accident occurred around 6:45 a.m. near the academy as the cadets were being taken to early morning land navigation training.

Officials withheld the name of the victims pending notification of next of kin and further investigation into the accident. Williams said the injuries, which included abrasions and a broken arm, were not life-threatening.

He declined to say where the deceased cadet was sitting when the accident occurred but noted that the soldiers were driving the vehicle.

The vehicle, a military truck that can carry personnel, had two people in the front cab and the rest in the back. Williams said there was no indication the vehicles was carrying more passengers than normal.

Williams, speaking to reporters near the site, said it was a “tragic day” for the West Point community.

Aerial footage showed the vehicle overturned in a heavily wooded area, its wheels in the air.

Williams said it was unusual for such a vehicle to roll over. 

He said the vehicle was traveling through the “very hilly” terrain as part of “realistic training” for the cadets.

The accident occurred on a dirt road off Route 293 at Camp Natural Bridge, a cadet summer training site near the main campus of the military academy.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter: “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!”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement expressing his condolences for the cadet who died and those injured. He directed the state Office of Emergency Management to provide any resources necessary to assist West Point.

“My heart breaks for all those involved in the tragic training accident at West Point this morning,” Cuomo said. “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.”

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Cuomo said the tragedy 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.”

West Point is on the Hudson River about 60 miles north of New York City. It is a four-year federal service academy originally established as a fort and is one of five service academies in the U.S. 

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Candidates for admission must both apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination.

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.

Tom Vanden Brook reports from Washington; Peter Kramer and Steve Lieberman report for the (Westchester County, N.Y.) Journal News.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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