HUNTER, N.Y. — Authorities say a Nebraska man enrolled in West Point’s preparatory school for potential cadets has died in a cliff-diving accident in the Catskills.

The U.S. Military Academy says in a release that cadet candidate Benjamin Bochtler died Saturday in the town of Hunter. Bochtler was 20 and came from Bellevue, Nebraska.

New York state police say he was hanging onto a rock ledge at a spot known as Fawn's Leap when a piece of rock broke off and sent him tumbling.

Bochtler entered West Point Prep in July. He had already served about three years in the Army, including a deployment in Afghanistan from April 2018 to January 2019.

The school is on the military academy’s grounds and enrolls soldiers and civilians aiming to become cadets and eventually Army officers.

“Cadet candidate Bochtler had an incredible smile and infectious positive attitude. He was everyone’s friend. Ben was a prior-enlisted combat veteran who set a tremendous example and used his experience in the Army to help his fellow cadet candidates,” said Col. Joshua Higgins, commandant of the United States preparatory school. “His warm personality and that big smile made a lasting impact on everyone at USMAPS. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and friends.”

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