Afghanistan Veteran Dies at ‘Watery Eden’ in the Hudson Valley
A student from the Hudson Valley who served our country in Afghanistan lost his life after visiting what's described as a "Watery Eden" in the Hudson Valley.
On Saturday around 11 a.m., New York State Police investigated an accidental death in the Town of Hunter. State Police responded to a 911 call of an unresponsive man at a routinely frequented cliff diving location known as Fawn’s Leap, off Route 23A.
According to police, the victim was hanging onto a rock ledge, when a portion of the rock broke from the ledge, causing the victim to fall. Life-saving measures at the scene were unsuccessful.
Police didn't release the man's name but said he was a Cadet Candidate at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School, located at West Point.
West Point later identified the victim as Benjamin Bochtler, 20, of Nebraska.
“Cadet Candidate Bochtler had an incredible smile and infectious positive attitude. He was everyone’s friend,” Col. Joshua Higgins, commandant of the United States preparatory school, said in a statement. “His warm personality and that big smile made a lasting impact on everyone at USMAPS.”
Bochtler entered West Point in July following a three-year stint in the Army, which including being deployed in Afghanistan from April 2018 until January 2019, Today reports.
"You were more than a friend to me, much more like a brother. From showing me around the FOB in Afghanistan to cleaning air vents in our barracks room with gas masks on, you always brought light to any situation. You were always smiling and joking and I know you wouldn’t want us to weigh too heavy on this," Dylan Reese Padgett wrote on Facebook. "God rest your soul and Until Valhalla, brother!"
CBS reports, Bochtler and a friend got a weekend pass and drove about 65 miles from West Point to Fawn's Leap. Fawn's Leap has been called one of the most "thrilling places to leap," in New York, and one of the "best swimming holes" for a "relaxing dip."
The New York Times also called Fawn's Leap a "Watery Eden."
Bochtler also played for the Army Lacrosse team.
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