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N.H. man, 21, killed in cliff jump

Witnesses say he tried, failed to reach lake

DIANA, N.Y. -- A 21-year-old New Hampshire man on an outing with friends died after he jumped from a cliff high above a lake and struck rocks at the water's edge, authorities say.

Alexander Chappell, a Clarkson University student from Somersworth, N.H., was conscious after he jumped from a cliff 80 to 100 feet high about 4 p.m. on Saturday, Lewis County Undersheriff John LaDuc said.

Despite suffering a broken arm, Chappell swam to a rescue boat and was alert and talking to paramedics as he was airlifted to a hospital, LaDuc said. Chappell later died at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown.

An autopsy was conducted Sunday, but results were not immediately available. LaDuc said it did not appear that drugs or alcohol were involved.

The accident occurred at Lake Bonaparte in the Adirondacks, about 80 miles northeast of Syracuse.

A lower cliff overhanging deep water on the lake is a popular spot for diving. But the cliff Chappell jumped from was much higher and farther back from the water, LaDuc said.

Chappell, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, was with a group of about a half-dozen young people at the time of the accident.

A memo about the accident was sent to Clarkson faculty and students, and grief counselors were made available, said university spokesman Rick Burt.

Virginia Short described her grandson as funny and energetic, with many friends.

''He's done well for three years in college, and now it's all gone," Short told the Foster's Daily Democrat newspaper in Dover, N.H., on Sunday.

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