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Midshipman dies in car accident in Pa.

Highway and Road DisastersTransportation DisastersUnited States Naval Academy

A Naval Academy midshipman who had recently been selected captain of the gymnastics team has died in an automobile accident in Berks County, Pa.

A Naval Academy spokesman said that Midshipman First Class Austin T. Zalik, an Allentown, Pa., resident, died Friday after suffering injuries in an accident on Interstate 78 in Greenwich Township, Pa.

The cause of the accident is being investigated by local police. According to the Morning Call in Allentown, authorities and witnesses said that Zalik, 21, had been sleeping in his pickup truck in a gas station parking lot before the 7 a.m. accident. His truck dropped off an embankment and into the path of a tractor-trailer on I-78. The pickup may have drifted forward as he dozed, authorities told the Morning Call.

Zalik was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The Naval Academy is deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss. Our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to Austin's family and friends during this very difficult time," Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Michael Miller said in a statement.

The academy said Zalik was an ocean engineering major. He was also a member of the Navy gymnastics team and was selected as its captain for the coming season.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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