Naval midshipman dies — 2nd Naval Academy student death in two months

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the details of Midshipman Luke Gabriel Bird’s death and the location where it happened.

A midshipman from the Naval Academy was found dead on Sunday morning after he fell while hiking in Chile — marking the second student death in two months, according to the Maryland-based academy.

Luke Gabriel Bird, 21, of New Braunfels, Texas, was a Midshipman 2nd Class and studying abroad at Chile’s Naval Academy when he died while hiking, a statement from the U.S. Naval Academy said.

Bird, hiking with a student from Chile’s Naval Academy — the Arturo Prat Naval Academy — lost his footing and fell over the Salto El Agua waterfall Saturday, the Naval Academy said. Chilean authorities found Bird’s body in the waterfall’s lagoon Sunday.

“It is hard to find the words to summarize who Luke was, so instead, I find it appropriate to talk about his actions,” Naval Academy senior Midshipman Travis Delgado, a friend of Bird’s and fellow Texan, said in the statement.

Bird, a junior at the Naval Academy, was an ocean engineering major, an active member of the Semper Fi Society and competed in intramural sports.

“We are incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Midshipman Luke Bird this weekend,” Navy Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in the statement.

Buck added, “I encourage all of our Naval Academy family to offer support to one another as we navigate the grieving process.”

Bird was captain of the wrestling team during his junior and senior years, the Naval Academy said.

In addition to wrestling, Bird was an avid cyclist, active in student government, vice president of the National Honor Society and the battalion commander of the New Braunfels High School Marine Corps Junior ROTC unit.

The Midshipmen Development Center, Chaplain’s Center and chain of command are providing grief counseling as well as support services to students, faculty and staff at the Naval Academy.

Bird’s funeral arrangements are pending. The U.S. Naval Academy statement said further information will be provided as it becomes available.

Last month, Midshipman Taylor Connors, 24, of Utah, died with his family at his bedside in Philadelphia on June 7, according to the Naval Academy.

No foul play was suspected in Connors’ death, the school said.

Connors held the rank of group commander and was responsible for over 250 midshipmen. He also played soccer and was a member of the National Honor Society and a Boy Scout. He enlisted in 2016 and reported to Annapolis in June 2019.

Hugh Garbrick

In 2020, Hugh graduated from the University of Maryland’s journalism college. While studying, Hugh interned at the Queen Anne & Magnolia News, a local paper in Seattle, and reported for the school’s Capital News Service. Hugh has lived in Montgomery County his whole life.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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