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West Point cadet candidate, Army veteran dies after falling from Catskill Mountains rock ledge

Benjamin K. Bochtler, who previously served in the Army as a drone operator and deployed to Afghanistan before enlisting at West Point in July, was hanging onto a rock ledge when he fell to his death.

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By KATE FELDMAN | New York Daily News | Published: September 2, 2019

NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — A 20-year-old West Point cadet candidate died in the Catskill Mountains Saturday, officials said.

Benjamin K. Bochtler, from Bellevue, Neb., was hanging onto a rock ledge near Fawn’s Leap, a popular cliff-diving location, when a portion of the rock broke off, according to the New York State Police.

Paramedics attempted life-saving measures but were unsuccessful.

Bochtler previously served in the Army as a drone operator and was deployed to Afghanistan before enlisting at West Point in July.

“Cadet Candidate Bochtler had an incredible smile and infectious positive attitude," Col. Joshua Higgins, Commandant of the United States Preparatory School, said in a statement.

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

Bochtler came from a military family. His brother, Jonathan, was serving in the Army when he died in 2017. Their father, Edwin, is a retired Army colonel.

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