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Dartmouth graduate who died near campus bridge identified as police launch investigation

The “horrible accident” may have involved alcohol, officials said.

Hanover police are investigating the death of David J. Gallagher, 24, a Dartmouth alumnus who was fatally injured Monday near a campus bridge.

Hanover Police Lieutenant Michael G. Schibuola told The Boston Globe that Gallagher’s death was a “horrible accident” which may have involved alcohol. Gallagher’s friends called 911 Monday to report that he was seriously injured on an embankment near the Ledyard Bridge, which is historically a place where students gather, Schibuola said.

“We are not sure exactly sure how he sustained his injuries that led to his demise. We are investigating. We don’t anticipate any criminal charges,” Schibuola told the Globe, adding that police are not expecting to get full autopsy results for several weeks.


One of Gallagher’s friends insisted to investigators that Gallagher did not engage in the famous “Ledyard Challenge,” Schibuola said, in which Dartmouth students streak across the bridge to Vermont, and then swim back across to Hanover, New Hampshire, avoiding legal loopholes in both states.

An article from last month in Dartmouth’s student newspaper refers to the Ledyard Challenge as a “beloved Dartmouth summer tradition” that is also a “​​calculated risk” — a student drowned while participating in the challenge in 2005.

Gallagher, a Pennsylvania native, was in town with his family for his delayed Class of 2020 commencement ceremony, authorities said. According to The Dartmouth, the college flag on the school’s campus green will be lowered in honor of Gallagher Tuesday and Wednesday. Dartmouth spokeswoman Diana Lawrence told Boston.com that the school is mourning its fallen student.

“The Dartmouth community is deeply saddened by this terrible tragedy,” she wrote in an email to Boston.com. “President Hanlon has been in touch with the parents of David Gallagher to share his condolences on their profound loss.”

Gallagher participated in several student activities while at Dartmouth, including the varsity men’s lacrosse team and Theta Delta Chi fraternity.

“Dave lived his life with a giant smile that lit up the room. His memory is in our hearts forever,” the team wrote in a tweet.


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