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West Point cadet dies during field training exercise

/ Source: msnbc.com and NBC News

A new U.S. military academy cadet has died while participating in field training at West Point, and an investigation was under way to determine the cause of death, an academy spokeswoman said.

Jacob D. Bower, 18, of Fairmont, W.Va. was found unresponsive Thursday in a wooded area while joining in a land-navigation exercise in the vicinity of Camp Buckner. Efforts to resuscitate him at the scene where unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 6:05 p.m., the U.S. Military Academy at West Point said in a statement.

U.S. military officials told NBC News that Bower was believed to be a victim of this week's hot weather. Temperatures reached the mid-90s in the area on Thursday, but an autopsy has not yet been performed, Theresa Brinkerhoff, an academy spokeswoman, told msnbc.com.

“Temperatures are pretty warm and we do have our safety conditions looked at every day,” Brinkerhoff said, adding that they had been experiencing high temperatures in recent days, “and there were some changes and modifications (to the course), which was normal.”

She didn't know which changes had been made or when they began.

A heat wave has killed at least 22 people nationwide this week. Twenty-nine states were under a heat advisory on Friday.

Bower, who had finished the first part of cadet basic training in good standing, was participating in an exercise in which cadets walk from point to point with a compass. They have to go to designated locations on a map and then check in at those spots to meet the requirements of the four-day course. Running is not part of the exercise, Brinkerhoff said.

An autopsy will be conducted, and it could be six to eight weeks before the results are received, Brinkerhoff said. Bower’s body was found in the vicinity of Camp Buckner, where military training is held for first and second-year cadets. The student body numbers about 4,400.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bower family during this difficult time," Lt. Col. Sherri Reed, a U.S. Military Academy spokeswoman said in the statement. "The academy is a close-knit family and the loss of one of our own affects all of us."

Bower, a member of the West Point class of 2015, was a three-sport athlete and a member of the National Honor Society.