The cadets injured Thursday in a vehicle accident were rising “firsties” — the senior class set to graduate in 2020.
They were headed out to conduct land navigation when a troop vehicle carrying 20 cadets, operated by two soldiers, was involved in a roll-over accident, academy officials said in a press release.
One cadet was confirmed deceased after the incident. The two soldiers and 19 cadets received care at Keller Army Community hospital and various other regional medical facilities.
All the injuries were non-life threatening, ranging from scrapes to broken bones, Lt. Col. Christopher Ophardt, a West Point spokesman, told Army Times.
The academy was overwhelmed with phone calls from concerned families of cadets after the incident made the news.
“There are over 2,500 cadets out at the training area right now. There’s no cell phone coverage and they’re not allowed to have their cell phones, so we provided as much information as we could,” Ophardt said. “As of yesterday, at 5 p.m. we notified all the families” of those injured.
“Once that was completed they started rotating through all the 2,500 cadets who are out at the training area to use the cell phones that the trainers had to call their parents, which, you can imagine, took a while," he added. “I cannot guarantee that everyone was called last night, but the effort was made to contact their parents from [5 p.m.] through the night.”
The academy has a social media page for families of cadets at https://www.facebook.com/WestPointParents/, and updates about the incident were posted there.
The notification effort was ongoing as of Thursday morning. But the important thing to remember is that every family with an injured cadet has already been contacted, he said.
“The injured actually called their parents themselves,” Ophardt said.
The cadets involved in the accident were from a mix of companies, he added. Their training began after graduation and they still have several weeks to go. There are no expectations of injured students being unable to graduate on time.
“From the range of injuries I saw, they’re all going to be able to graduate,” Ophardt said.
West Point is still waiting to complete the next-of-kin notification process for the deceased cadet before releasing that person’s identity.
The vehicle involved in the accident was an M1085 medium tactical vehicle long wheelbase cargo truck, officials said in the release. It rolled over at approximately 6:45 a.m. Thursday off Route 293 near Camp Natural Bridge in the West Point training area.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased and injured,” Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, said at a press conference.
“I would like to commend the exceptional efforts and professionalism of first responders and medical personnel and thank the New York State police and our mutual aid partners," Williams said. “Per Department of Defense policy, the name of the deceased will be released within the next 24 hours.”
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.