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“Immensely Smart” US Midshipman Luke Gabriel Byrd Dies After Falling on a Waterfall in Chile

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Undated photo provided by the US Navy shows Petty Officer 2nd Class Luke Gabriel Bird of New Braunfels, Texas.

AP. via US Navy


Annapolis, Mohd. — – A Texas midshipman has died after falling over a waterfall in Chile, the US Naval Academy announced Monday.

The US Naval Academy said in a news release that Midshipman Second Class Luke Gabriel Bird of New Braunfels, Texas, was attending a semester program abroad at the Arturo Pratt Naval Academy in Chile. The 21-year-old junior was walking with a school student near the Salto el Agua waterfall in Plasilla in the Valparaíso region on Saturday when he allegedly lost his leg and fell over the waterfall, the academy said.

Chilean authorities found the bird’s carcass in the waterfall’s lagoon on Sunday.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Midshipman Luke Byrd this weekend,” Vice Admiral Sean Buck, superintendent of the US Naval Academy, said in a statement. “I encourage all of our Naval Academy family to support one another as we navigate the grieving process.”

The academy said that Bird attended New Braunfels High School, where he was captain of the wrestling team in his junior and senior years and was active in student government. At the Naval Academy, Bird was a member of the 20th and other companies and an ocean engineering major. He was a member of the Semper Phi Society and competed with company peers as an intramural sports athlete. The academy said Bird was authorized to wear the National Defense Service Medal and had earned the Marksman Rifle Merit Badge and the Sharpshooter Pistol Merit Badge.

Midshipman First Class Travis Delgado, a friend and fellow Texan, called Bird “immensely smart”, adding that Bird mentored and taught him in their shared courses.

“He set the very example of a hard-working midshipman who helps anyone at the drop of a hat,” Delgado, a senior, said in a statement. “He was a great man and will be greatly missed by all of him in the 20th Company and the entire Brigade.”

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