West Point officials say one cadet was killed and 22 people were injured when a vehicle they were riding in for summer training overturned this morning. An Assemblyman who represents the West Point area says his office has been inundated with messages from around the country.
The U.S. Military Academy says the vehicle overturned on a dirt road around 6:45 a.m. Twenty rising senior cadets, from the class of 2020, and two soldiers on the Light Medium Tactical Vehicle were injured and taken to local hospitals. West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams spoke at a news conference carried by Spectrum this afternoon.
“One cadet is confirmed deceased as of 10:58 a.m.,” Williams says. “The other injured personnel received care at Keller Army Community Hospital and various other regional medical facilities. Their injuries are not life threatening.”
The hospital commander says the injuries range from facial abrasions to a broken arm. Williams says details of the incident are under investigation. The accident occurred near Camp Natural Bridge, an area where cadet summer training takes place.
“So our seniors, as you know, we train very heavily here at West Point, and the training they do is part of our normal senior training. They’ve been doing this for some time now,” says Williams. “And they were headed to land navigation training when they were in the back of the truck. They were being transferred to the training site, and that’s when the vehicle had the accident.”
He says the accident happened close to the training area.
“No, it is not common for these vehicles to turn over. It’s very rough terrain. You can see the hills we have here,” Williams says. “We want to make sure that our soldiers and our cadets train in a realistic training environment, so this is part of our realistic training.”
Speaking with WAMC’s Alan Chartock on The Roundtable, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the incident.
“These are young people who are dedicating their lives. It’s the anniversary of D-Day,” Cuomo says. “It really is a sad, sad, moment and it’s especially poignant on the anniversary of D-Day.”
Assemblyman Colin Schmitt says it’s a tragic day for the 99th Assembly District, state and nation. He’s been receiving messages from near and far.
“I’ve had outreach from friends and from colleagues across the state but really from all parts, checking in, seeing what I’ve heard, seeing if the community needed anything,” Schmitt says. “And I think that shows the symbol that West Point is that, when something like this happens, it gets the world’s attention.”
New York state Senator James Skoufis represents the West Point community and describes how today’s Senate session opened.
“We opened with a moment of silence and prayer on behalf of those who were affected today,” Skoufis says.
Schmitt, who is a member of the Army National Guard and has participated in active duty training, says he’s familiar with the type of training and Light Medium Tactical Vehicle involved.
“I very frequently ride in this type of vehicle so I know that you’re usually in there in your uniform, in your field uniform, you’re usually wearing an ACH, which is a helmet. Usually you’re not travelling at a very fast rate of speed because you are transporting multiple individuals in the back of a truck, which is really only covered by a tarp, for a civilian term, it’s really a tarp with some metal bars. It’s not a full solid… A lot of people have been referring to a bus-type structure or something like that. It’s not that. It’s really an open-air canopy above that’s covered with this tarp-like feature, so just to visualize for people, that’s kind of what you’re dealing with. There’s no really protection or roofing or stable roofing in a vehicle like this.”
Schmitt was planning to return to his district this afternoon and offer what he could to the community.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, whose 18th District includes West Point, along with U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand all expressed grief for the West Point community.
President Donald Trump tweeted, “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!”