West Point cadet candidate dies in fall at cliff-diving spot in upstate New York

The deadly accident happened as the 20-year-old was hanging onto a rock ledge and part of the rock broke off, state police said.

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By Phil Helsel

A West Point cadet candidate fell to his death in upstate New York on Saturday morning at a spot known for cliff diving, New York State Police said Sunday.

The cadet candidate was hanging onto a rock ledge at a location known as "Fawn's Leap" in Hunter when part of the rock broke and he fell, according to police. Hunter is about 100 miles north of lower Manhattan.

"Life-saving measures at the scene were unsuccessful," New York State Police said in a statement.

State police said the victim was a cadet candidate at the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in West Point.

The U.S. Military Academy in a statement to NBC's "TODAY" identified the cadet candidate as Benjamin Bochtler. The 20-year-old Bellevue, Nebraska, entered the academy in July after three years in the Army, which included a deployment to Afghanistan from April 2018 to January, according to the U.S. Military Academy.

"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," the commandant of the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School, Col. Joshua Higgins, said in the statement.

"His warm personality and that big smile made a lasting impact on everyone at USMAPS," Higgins said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family, and friends."