One person dead, 22 injured in accident near West Point training site

Posted at 10:33 AM, Jun 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-06 12:54:38-04

WEST POINT, N.Y. – One US Military Academy cadet died Thursday in a vehicle accident near an academy training site, and 20 other cadets and two soldiers were injured, the academy said.

West Point Military Academy.

West Point said Thursday morning the accident involving a light medium tactical vehicle occurred “in the vicinity of the Camp Natural Bridge training site.”

Katie Felder, a spokeswoman for West Point, could not immediately provide further details.

New York state trooper Steven Nevel said troopers were headed to the location of the accident as needed.

The US military academy is located in New York, a 45-minute drive away from New York City, according to the academy.

Cadets take part in field training exercises during their second summer at West Point. That training “is designed to familiarize and train each Third Class cadet in basic and advanced individual Soldier skills,” according to the West Point website.

“Training is conducted in combined arms operations, introducing the cadets to the combat, combat support and combat service support branches of the U.S.,” the site says.

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement he was directing New York’s Office of Emergency Management “to provide any resources necessary” to assist following the accident.

“On behalf of all New Yorkers, we pray for a speedy recovery for those involved and we share in the sorrow experienced by their loved ones during this extremely difficult time,” Cuomo’s statement said.

Retired Major Gen. James “Spider” Marks, a CNN military analyst, said cadets go to the site during the summer for “vigorous military training.”

Marks, an alumnus of West Point, said these are “routine” exercises done generally during what is the summer after cadets’ first year. Marks said the cadets are “exposed to how Army operates at small-unit level squads” and also learn about “team building” and learn “individual skills as team leader.”

Marks said while he did not know the conditions that led to this particular accident, he said the Army would “get its arms around it and instate policies” to assure this did not happen again.

While the US looks at winding down various combat operations overseas, the military has been grappling with how to prevent deadly training incidents both at home and abroad.

Between 2006 and 2018, 31.9 percent of all active duty military deaths were the result of accidents, according to a congressional report. Only 16.3 percent of service members who died during that timespan were killed in action.

Last year, a spate of non-combat military aircraft crashes prompted House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, to say the “readiness of the military is at a crisis point.”

One of the most recent accidents occurred in March, when two Marine pilots died in a helicopter crash near Yuma, Arizona, during a routine training exercise.