West Point cadet from Terre Haute among those injured

Tribune-Star file photo / Austen LeakeU.S. Military Academy Cadet Sgt. Zach Potter, right, is pictured with his grandfather Frank Coverstone, a WWII veteran, at a March 2019 ceremony celebrating Coverstone's military service. 

A U.S. Military Academy cadet from Terre Haute was injured Thursday morning during a training exercise at the academy's Camp Natural Bridge in New York.

Cadet Sgt. Zach Potter, a 2015 Terre Haute North Vigo High School graduate, was injured when the light-medium tactical vehicle he was in left the dirt road it was on and rolled down a craggy hill just before 7 a.m. Thursday morning, his father, Corey Potter, said.

Potter, along with 19 fellow cadets and two soldiers, were on their way to a summer training site for land navigation training. 

One of the cadets on board, identified Friday as Christopher J. Morgan, of West Orange, New Jersey, was killed, according to the Associated Press.

Corey Potter said Zach Potter called him from the back of an ambulance to let him know that while he suffered some injuries, he was otherwise OK.

"He was on the way to Keller Army Hospital, the hospital at West Point, when he called and said, 'Hey, just want to let you know that I'm OK and wanted to let you know before it was on the news,'" Corey Potter remembered his son telling him.

He added he was lucky to get the call from Zach Potter, as cadets don't often take their phones on training exercises, but he was thankful that his son decided to do so on Thursday.

Corey Potter wouldn't offer specifics as to the extent of his son's injuries, but said he's been discharged from the hospital and returned to the training site.

More than the injuries sustained during the crash, Corey Potter said the cadets are having to come to grips with the death of a fellow cadet who many had spent the last three to four years going to school and training with.

"Zach is banged up a little, but he's also dealing with the stress of the event," Corey Potter said. "He lost a close friend, and really all those guys are really, really tight. Most of them went to prep school together before starting at the academy.

"He's suffering a little from that, but I know [the U.S. Military Academy] has the right personnel out there to help the cadets with these issues."

Corey Potter said he's never been under the illusion that military service is the safest occupation, but added that he figured any injury or loss would likely be a product of a deployment overseas.

"The training around there can be very dangerous and very real," Corey Potter said. "But an incident like this is something you're never ready for.

"It certainly took me by surprise when I first heard, but when I thought more about it I realized that what they're doing in training is what they're doing in the Middle East to get them prepared."

Zach Potter is the punter and holder for the West Point football team and is scheduled to return for his senior season in the fall.

Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at alex.modesitt@tribstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex.