One cadet died and nearly two dozen others were hurt when a 2.5-ton tactical vehicle carrying them and two active duty soldiers overturned en route to a training site near the U.S. Military Academy in West Point early Thursday, authorities say.
A total of 19 cadets and the two U.S. Army soldiers, who had been driving them, were hurt when the vehicle somehow veered off Route 293 and rolled over, ending upside-down in a thickly wooded area, around 6:45 a.m., spokesmen from West Point and Fort Stewart Georgia said. The active duty soldiers were based at Fort Benning; the cadets were rising seniors at West Point and would have graduated next year, in 2020. They were heading out as part of a routine training exercise, and officials weren't able to provide any additional details Thursday afternoon on how the accident may have happened.
The name of the cadet who died has not been released; the person was pronounced dead shortly before 11 a.m., about four hours after the crash.
Military personnel declined to go into the nature of the deadly injury. The injured were taken to local hospitals; military personnel said injuries ranged from a facial abrasion to a broken arm, and all were expected to be OK.
It's not clear what caused the tactical vehicle flip, and military officials say their investigation is ongoing.
A West Point spokesman described a "chaotic" situation in the immediate aftermath of the accident at Camp Natural Bridge, a cadet summer training site.
"There has been an accident in the vicinity of the Camp Natural Bridge training site. Emergency vehicles are responding. Please avoid Route 293. More information will follow," the U.S. Military Academy tweeted.
Chopper 4 later provided a first aerial view of the accident site, which was heavily obscured. The military vehicle was barely visible through the heavy tree cover, but it was clearly flipped, its undercarriage and wheels facing the sky.
News crews were being kept at a distance as ambulances, sirens flashing, sped past. More than a half-dozen law enforcement and emergency vehicles were lined on either side of the highway.
State Police said troopers were assisting West Point personnel and that it was sending a collision reconstruction crew to the scene.
The accident falls on the 75th anniversary of D-Day. New York state is honoring about a hundred World War II veterans during a ceremony on Long Island.
Gov. Cuomo called the timing of the deadly accident especially heart-wrenching.
"My heart breaks for all those involved in the tragic training accident at West Point this morning. These courageous cadets and soldiers represent the best of New York State and our country, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for their bravery in choosing to serve our country and protect our freedoms," he said. "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."
President Trump also acknowledged the tragedy, tweeting later Thursday, "So 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!"