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At Popular Diving Spot, Tragedy When Rock Ledge Collapses

West Point cadet Benjamin Bochtler dies in the Catskills
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2019 12:50 PM CDT
Kaaterskill Falls is pictured here.   (Getty Images/Arthur Hamling)

(Newser) – A West Point cadet candidate has died after falling from a rock ledge at a popular spot among cliff-divers in upstate New York. Benjamin Bochtler, 20, was hanging from the ledge at the site known as Fawn's Leap on Kaaterskill Creek in the Catskill Mountains when a section of rock fell away around 11am Saturday, reports NBC News. He could not be revived at the scene, according to New York State Police. West Point commandant Joshua Higgins said Bochtler was "a tremendous example" to other cadet candidates. "His warm personality and that big smile made a lasting impact on everyone," Higgins said, per CNN.

The Nebraska native enlisted as a drone operator with the Army in 2016 before a 10-month stint in Afghanistan that ended this January, CNN reports. He enlisted at West Point in July, per NBC. At least six others have died in the popular area of Kaaterskill Falls, just upstream, over the last decade, according to a New York Times report from last August. The last four were posing for photos near ledges. (Read more fall stories.)

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