Midshipman Found Dead at Naval Academy Was Starting Offensive Lineman for Navy Football

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This May 10, 2007 file photo shows the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. (Kathleen Lange, AP)
This May 10, 2007 file photo shows the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. (Kathleen Lange, AP)

Naval Academy officials identified Navy football offensive lineman David Forney as the midshipman found dead Thursday night in Bancroft Hall. He was 22 years old.

"Words cannot express our pain and sorrow," said Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo in a statement released by Navy Sports. "The Navy Football Brotherhood is not a team, we are a family. We are devastated to have lost one of our brothers. We all loved — and will always love — David. We pray for strength during this most difficult time."

Forney was the anchor of an offensive line that set a school record and led the nation in rushing, averaging 360.5 yards per game. He was named First-Team American Athletic Conference and First-Team All-East in the 2019 season.

A member of the 9th Company and a political science major, Forney was set to graduate from the Academy in May and had been assigned to commission as a cryptologic warfare officer, according to a statement from the Naval Academy.

"[David] was the guy I had the blessing and honor to play next to these past few years," said Navy Football starting center Ford Higgins, one of four Navy captains, in the Navy Sports statement. "He was such a great guy and even better friend. He was universally loved on and off the field by teammates and classmates. The Forney family will be in our thoughts and prayers. I loved him dearly and I will miss him forever."

Forney's death comes one week after Midshipman Duke Carrillo was laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy. His is the second death at the Naval Academy this year, and the 11th midshipman death since 2012.

Carrillo, a 21-year-old sophomore, collapsed while taking a physical readiness test Feb. 8 and was later pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The cause of his death is still pending, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.

Before him, Midshipman 1st Class Juan “Jimmy” Jimenez, a 22-year-old general engineering major from Latham, N.Y., was found dead at a Prince George’s shooting range in 2017. Then academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Ted Carter said the student died from “an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound” in a note to faculty and staff after Jimenez’s death.

One year before, Midshipman 1st Class Jason Jablonski, of Athol Springs, N.Y., died of leukemia complications. The 21-year-old was diagnosed just three months before his death and received treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he died that November.

Two midshipmen, Justin Zemser and Rolando Amador, died in 2015. Amador, a 22-year-old junior from Harpswell, Maine, was found dead in his dorm. Zemser, 20, died that May in the derailment and crash of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia. The sophomore was on the way to his home when the wreck that killed eight took place.

Three midshipmen died in the span of two months in 2014.

Max Allen, a senior from Chesterfield, Va., crashed his SUV into a creek on campus and drowned after a night of drinking in downtown Annapolis in February. A Naval Academy report found Allen’s blood alcohol content was almost twice the legal driving limit, but that the icy condition of the water was the direct cause of his death. Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller, academy superintendent at the time, said Allen’s death should be deemed “in the line of duty, not due to his own misconduct.”

That March, Midshipman 3rd Class Hans Loewen, a 20-year-old from Hampstead, N.C., died after a skateboarding accident while on liberty at Assateague State Park. Lowen was riding his skateboard and holding a moving Jeep when the skateboard struck the Jeep’s tire and Loewen was flung to the ground and hit by the Jeep. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash but died after about one week in a coma.

Will McKamey, 19, collapsed during football spring practice later that month. The freshman reportedly did not experience any abnormally hard hits before collapsing. He was transported from the field by helicopter to University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma Center where he underwent surgery for brain bleeding and swelling. He slipped into a coma and died three days later.

Two 21-year-old midshipmen, Nicholas Tarr and Austin Zalik, died in separate car crashes in August of 2012.

Zalik, a senior, died while on leave in Pennsylvania. The ocean engineering major was sleeping in his pickup truck in the parking lot of a gas station when the pickup drifted forward and dropped off an embankment and into the path of a tractor-trailer, officials said. A week later, Tarr, a junior, was killed in Florida after his car hit a tree near a state park.

All received military honors at their services and as active duty service members, their families received military benefits, academy officials said.

Forney, a native of Walkersville, Maryland and a 2015 graduate of Georgetown Prep, is survived by his parents, Rick and Erika Forney, younger brothers, Chris and Erik, and sister, Rebekah. Service arrangements are pending, according to Navy Sports.

Information from the Capital Gazette and Navy Sports was included in this report.

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