Naval Academy Midshipman Dies After Tragic Hiking Accident

by Chris Haney

On Monday, the U.S. Naval Academy announced that a midshipman lost his life in a hiking accident in Chile over the weekend. Recent reports suggest that Midshipman 2nd class Luke Gabriel Bird lost his footing while hiking with a friend and fell over a waterfall, where he was later found and pronounced dead.

According to the Naval Academy’s statement, the 21-year-old from New Braunfels, Texas was in Chile for a semester abroad program. The junior went hiking with another student on Saturday morning when the incident occurred near the Salto El Agua waterfall in Placilla, Chile. Authorities found Bird’s body in a lagoon near the waterfall on Sunday morning. Authorities shared they expect no foul play in the hiking accident. Vice Adm. Sean Buck, 63rd Superintendent, shared thoughts about Bird in the Naval Academy’s press release.

“We are incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Midshipman Luke Bird this weekend,” Buck said in the statement. “My wife, Joanne, and I and the entire Naval Academy community offer our sincerest condolences to Luke’s family, friends, and fellow midshipmen during this difficult time. I encourage all of our Naval Academy family to offer support to one another as we navigate the grieving process.”

Bird was a distinguished member of the 20th and 2nd companies at the Naval Academy. He took part in the Semper Fi society, majored in ocean engineering, and the academy authorized Bird to wear the National Defense Service Medal. He also earned a Marksman Rifle Qualification Badge and a Sharpshooter Pistol Qualification Badge. In addition to those honors, Bird was one of only five JROTC members across the nation to receive the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement in high school.

Friends and Family Mourn Midshipman’s Passing Following Deadly Hiking Accident

As news of Luke Bird’s hiking accident made its way home, his friends and family grieved his death. Bird’s friend and fellow midshipman spoke about him in the Naval Academy’s statement.

“It is hard to find the words to summarize who Luke was. So instead, I find it appropriate to talk about his actions,” Midshipman 1st Class Travis Delgado said.

Delgado spoke further about Bird sharing that he was “an unfathomably smart midshipman.” In fact, he said that the 21-year-old frequently tutored him in classes they shared together.

“He greatly exemplified the hard working midshipman who helps anyone at the drop of a hat,” Delgado added. “He was a great man and will be dearly missed by all those in 20th Company and throughout the brigade.”

On Sunday, Luke Bird’s father addressed his son’s tragic death as well on social media. Chad L. Bird wrote that their family has “broken hearts and numb souls” and that he’s “never known such pain” after receiving the news of Luke’s passing.

“Pray for us, all our family and friends, Luke’s fellow midshipmen, and all who grieve the passing of this phenomenally gifted young man, who daily inspired me, for he didn’t know how to give anything less than 100%,” Luke’s father wrote on Facebook.