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Dartmouth grad and lacrosse player is found dead under bridge known for notorious student challenge

Dartmouth graduate and lacrosse player, 24, found dead under bridge known for infamous student challenge: fell off rocky embankment ‘while drunk’ in freak accident while visiting campus

  • David Gallagher, 24, was working in Los Angeles as an analyst for an asset management firm when he returned east to Dartmouth
  • He was there for his commencement ceremony, which had previously been postponed due to the pandemic, with Gallagher graduating in 2020
  • But around 2 a.m. on Sunday, the weekend of the celebration, Gallagher was discovered seriously injured under a bridge
  • EMTs had to use a boat to get Gallagher out of the embankment under Ledyard Bridge, described by local police as ‘very rocky, steep terrain’
  • Gallagher was transported to a local hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after at the age of 24

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A man visiting his Ivy League alma mater for a delayed kick-off ceremony is dead after falling off a campus embankment in what bewildered officials are calling a freak accident.

David Gallagher, 24, was working in Los Angeles as an analyst for an asset management firm when he returned east to Dartmouth for his start.

The ceremony had previously been postponed due to the pandemic, with Gallagher graduating in 2020 during the earliest days of COVID.

But around 2 a.m. Sunday, the weekend of the celebration, Gallagher was discovered critically injured under a Ledyard bridge on West Wheelock Street on the New Hampshire campus. The bridge is known for being the site of an infamous challenge in which Dartmouth students swim across the Connecticut River below and then run across the bridge.

The Ledyard Bridge Challenge is “the most terrifying challenge on campus,” according to the Dartmouth Folklore Archive.

EMTs had to use a boat to get Gallagher out of the embankment under Ledyard Bridge, described as “very rocky, steep terrain” by local police captain James Martin.

David Gallagher, a 24-year-old man visiting his Ivy League alma mater for a delayed kick-off ceremony, is dead after falling off a campus embankment in what stunned officials are calling a freak accident

Gallagher was discovered seriously injured under a Ledyard Bridge on West Wheelock Street on the New Hampshire campus.  The bridge is known for being the site of an infamous challenge that saw Dartmouth students swim across the Connecticut River below.

Gallagher was discovered seriously injured under a Ledyard Bridge on West Wheelock Street on the New Hampshire campus.  The bridge is known for being the site of an infamous challenge that saw Dartmouth students swim across the Connecticut River below.

David Gallagher (left and right) a 24-year-old man visiting his Ivy League alma mater for a delayed kick-off ceremony has died after falling off a campus embankment in what bewildered officials are calling a freak accident

1660191152 831 Dartmouth grad and lacrosse player is found dead under bridge

1660191152 831 Dartmouth grad and lacrosse player is found dead under bridge

EMTs had to use a boat to get Gallagher out of the embankment under Ledyard Bridge, described as “very rocky, steep terrain” by local police captain James Martin.

At around 2 a.m. Sunday, the weekend of the celebration, Gallagher was discovered critically injured under a bridge on West Wheelock Street on the New Hampshire campus.

At around 2 a.m. Sunday, the weekend of the celebration, Gallagher was discovered critically injured under a bridge on West Wheelock Street on the New Hampshire campus.

At around 2 a.m. Sunday, the weekend of the celebration, Gallagher was discovered critically injured under a bridge on West Wheelock Street on the New Hampshire campus.

Gallagher (left) was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Fellowship of Christian Athlete and School Morale Leader at his high school

Gallagher (left) was a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Fellowship of Christian Athlete and School Morale Leader at his high school

Gallagher (center) started at Dartmouth in 2017, appearing in all 13 games as a freshman

Gallagher (center) started at Dartmouth in 2017, appearing in all 13 games as a freshman

David Gallagher is the son of Michael and Marea Gallagher and according to his player profile Dartmouth Lacrosse has one sister

1660191155 581 Dartmouth grad and lacrosse player is found dead under bridge

1660191155 581 Dartmouth grad and lacrosse player is found dead under bridge

Martin adds: ‘From the carriageway from Hanover, it is often inaccessible to walk in on foot.’

Ledyard Bridge Challenge is ‘the most terrifying challenge on campus’

There is a tradition attached to the bridge where David Gallagher was found last weekend.

‘The Ledyard Bridge Challenge’ is so famous that it has even been quoted by Dartmouth’s website and considered “usual” folklore of the Ivy League school.

The challenge involves someone going to the riverbank and swimming to the riverside in Vermont, before running back over the bridge connecting the state to New Hampshire.

Students of all ages have taken part in the challenge, with some scary results.

A freshman who took up the challenge in 2016 at the age of 18 wrote: ‘At one point while swimming I started screaming because my body got so cold I couldn’t swim anymore’.

Another wrote: ‘As I ran back across the bridge, HPO started chasing me. Luckily I didn’t have my wallet with my clothes. So I booked it all the way back to my dorm.’

The motivation and purpose of ‘Dartmouth Students’, as well as any individual’s reason for completing the Ledyard Bridge Challenge, is so that they can continue the Dartmouth tradition and culture that has existed in Dartmouth for decades,” according to the Dartmouth Folklore Archive.

Only one person has stepped forward and confirmed he was with Gallagher at the time.

Jack Richardson, Gallagher’s friend who was with him when he fell, called it an “extraordinary accident” but declined to provide further details.

Gallagher was transported to a local hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after at the age of 24.

Officials have launched an investigation to get to the bottom of the incident, but Lieutenant Michael Schibuola said it was likely a ‘terrible accident’ fueled by alcohol and no criminal charges are expected.

Jack Richardson, Gallagher’s friend who was with him when he fell, called it an “extraordinary accident” but declined to provide further details. Valley News reported.

There is a challenge associated with the bridge as part of college folklore, where you get to the banks of the river where Gallagher fell and swam to the other side without getting caught.

Gallagher graduated from Dartmouth with a degree in government, according to LinkedIn.

He was a star player on the Ivy League school lacrosse team and a member of a fraternity.

He has been with Bellweather Asset Management since 2020, where he had just been promoted, according to his former lacrosse coach Brendan Callahan.

He has also previously worked at Bane Realty Capital, HFF and JLL.

Gallagher is listed as having attended Downington High School in Pennsylvania as well as taking courses like the University of Pennsylvania’s famous Wharton School. He cites three appearances on the athletic director’s honors list at Dartmouth among his achievements.

The lacrosse team tweeted Monday in tribute to Gallagher: “He was tough, worked hard on the field and in the classroom, had a high character and a positive attitude. Dave lived his life with a giant smile that lit up the room. His memory will be in our hearts forever.’

David’s father Michael posted a lengthy video celebrating their son’s graduation on YouTube.

He wrote: ‘Congratulations David. Keep doing great things and strive for excellence. You’ll do great in California!!’ and signed it from himself and David’s mother.

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