February 17, 2014 Updated: February 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman was found dead after crashing an SUV into a creek behind the Nimitz library on school grounds, an academy spokesman said Monday.
Cmdr. John Schofield, the spokesman, said the submerged vehicle was found at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday after someone reported seeing a missing post in a chain-linked barrier that marks off the area between the road and the seawall. Schofield said the midshipman's body was recovered in the water near the vehicle at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The crash is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
"It is way too early in the investigation to rule in or out really anything," Schofield told reporters near the scene of the crash.
Schofield said the crash most likely took place in the early morning hours of Saturday or Sunday. Most midshipmen were away on a holiday weekend.
"We don't have a good idea at this time of the exact point or time of entry into the water, so although it is a main thoroughfare during the daylight hours if this accident took place in the very early morning hours, yes, one could surmise that it wouldn't be noticed," Schofield said.
Much of the academy grounds remain covered in snow and ice from last week's winter storm, but the road where the accident happened was clear on Monday. Schofield said it's too early to say whether snow or ice was a factor in the crash. The part of the creek where the crash occurred was icy on Monday.
"The early indications right now — and again I stress that the investigation, you know, is ongoing — is that this is a motor vehicle accident, and it's a single-car motor vehicle accident," Schofield said.
The vehicle was registered in the name of the male midshipman, Schofield said.
The road between the creek and the library is usually a well-traveled thoroughfare for midshipmen, faculty and visitors, Schofield said. The water where the car crashed is about 8 to 12 feet deep, he said.
The academy notified the midshipman's next of kin Monday morning, Schofield said. The academy is withholding the midshipman's identity for 24 hours after the family's notification.