US midshipman falls to his death on Chilean waterfall
A midshipman out Texas died after falling over a waterfall in Chile, the US Naval Academy said on Monday.
Midshipman 2nd Class Luke Gabriel Bird from New Braunfels, Texas, was participating in a semester abroad program at the Arturo Prat Naval Academy in Chile, the U.S. Naval Academy said in a press release. The 21-year-old Junior was hiking with a student from the school near the Salto El Agua waterfall in Placilla, in the Valparaíso region, on Saturday when he reportedly lost his footing and fell over the waterfall, the academy said.
Chilean authorities found Bird’s body in the waterfall’s lagoon on Sunday.
“We are incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Midshipman Luke Bird this weekend,” U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck said in a statement. “I encourage our entire Naval Academy family to support one another as we navigate the grieving process.”
Bird attended New Braunfels High School, where he was captain of the wrestling team during his junior and senior years and was active in student administration, the academy said. At the Naval Academy, Bird was a member of the 20th and 2nd Companies and studied marine engineering. He was a member of the Semper Fi Society and competed as a company athlete with company colleagues. Bird was eligible to wear the National Defense Service Medal and had earned the Marksman Rifle Qualification Badge and the Sharpshooter Pistol Qualification Badge, the academy said.
Travis Delgado, Midshipman 1st Class, a friend and Texan, called Bird “unfathomably smart” and said Bird mentored and taught him on their classes together.
“He was an excellent example of the hard-working midshipman who helps everyone on the fly,” Delgado, a senior, said in a statement. “He was a great man and will be greatly missed by everyone in 20th Company and throughout the brigade.”