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Report says midshipman had been drinking prior to fatal crash into creek

A midshipman who crashed his SUV into a creek and drowned in February had been drinking at an Annapolis bar earlier that night, a Naval Academy investigation found.

Midshipman Max Allen, a senior from Chesterfield, Va., had ordered a burger and several drinks, including "The Max," a Long Island Iced Tea spinoff named after him, with two other midshipmen at the Federal House Bar and Grille on Feb. 14, according to the report. Allen returned to his dorm around 11:30 p.m., then had a phone conversation with a friend around 1 a.m., before leaving again, the report said.

According to the report, Allen's blood alcohol content was 0.14, almost twice the legal driving limit of 0.8, when his vehicle struck a building then swerved off the road, through a concrete barrier and into College Creek, the report said.

Allen, 25, was able to get out of the car through the driver's side window but succumbed to hypothermia from the sub-freezing winter temperatures and drowned as he tried to swim to shore, the report said.

Since many midshipmen were away from President's Day weekend, Allen was not immediately reported missing, officials said. Navy police and Anne Arundel County rescue divers found his SUV and body the following afternoon, after a passerby reported the broken barrier.

In a letter conveying the report to the Navy, Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller said Allen's decision to drive after consuming alcohol, and the poor road conditions that night, were "major contributing factors" to his death. He agreed with the report's finding that the icy condition of the water was the direct cause, and that Allen's death should be deemed "in the line of duty, not due to his own misconduct."

Naval Academy Spokesman Commander John Schofield said every service member in the U.S. military is presumed to be in the line of duty, even when they're on leave. In order to be considered outside the line of duty, a service member must desert, go absent without leave or commit an "egregious criminal act," he said.

Schofield said the academy stands behind the report.

"The factor that ultimately killed him was drowning as brought about by the hypothermic conditions of the water," Schofield said.

The report called for the academy to conduct additional training with midshipmen "regarding vehicle safety and the effects of alcohol" before any holiday or long leave period.

Allen was on track to become a Naval flight officer after graduation in May. He was an oceanography major and was a member of the club soccer team, the Italian-American Club and the Japanese-American Club, according to academy officials.

He graduated from Haverford High School in Pennsylvania and studied at Virginia Tech for two years before joining the academy, officials said.



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