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NewsDartmouth grad and lacrosse player is found dead under...

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

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Dartmouth graduate and lacrosse player, 24, is found dead under bridge known for notorious student challenge: Fell down rocky embankment ‘while drunk’ in freak accident while visiting campus

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

A man visiting his Ivy League alma mater for a delayed commencement ceremony is dead after falling down a campus embankment in what stunned officials are calling a freak accident. 

David Gallagher, 24, had been working in Los Angeles as an analyst for an asset management company when he came back east to Dartmouth for his commencement.

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

But around 2 a.m. on 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 as the site of a notorious challenge where Dartmouth students swim across the Connecticut River below.

EMTs had to use a boat just to get Gallagher out of the embankment under the 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 commencement ceremony is dead after falling down an on campus embankment in what stunned officials are calling a freak accident

Gallagher was discovered critically injured under a Ledyard Bridge on West Wheelock street on the New Hampshire campus. The bridge is known as the site of a notorious challenge where 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 commencement ceremony is dead after falling down an on campus embankment in what stunned officials are calling a freak accident

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

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

Gallagher (left) was a part 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, where he appeared in all 13 games as a freshman

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

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

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

Martin added: ‘It’s often inaccessible to walk in on foot from the roadway from Hanover.’

Were graduates participating in ‘The Ledyard Bridge Challenge’?

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

‘The Ledyard Bridge Challenge’ is so famous it’s even been cited by Dartmouth’s website and considered ‘customary’ folklore of the Ivy League school.

The challenge involves someone going down to the bank near the river and swimming across to the Vermont side of the river bank, before running back across the bridge that connects the state to New Hampshire. 

Students of every age have participated in the challenge, with some scary results.

A freshman who took the challenge at 18 in 2016 wrote: ‘At one point during my swim, I started screaming because my body got so cold, to the point where I could no longer swim’.

Another wrote: ‘As I was running 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’.  

Only one person has stepped forward and confirmed to being with Gallagher at the time. 

Jack Richardson, Gallagher’s friend who was with him when he fell, called it a ‘freak accident’ but would provide no other details. 

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

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

Jack Richardson, Gallagher’s friend who was with him when he fell, called it a ‘freak accident’ but would provide no other details, Valley News reported. 

There is a challenge associated with the bridge as part of the college’s folklore that involves heading down to the banks of the river where Gallagher fell and swimming across to the other side without being caught.  

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

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

Since 2020, he’s been working at Bellweather Asset Management, where he’d just gotten a promotion, according to his former lacrosse coach Brendan Callahan. 

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

Gallagher is listed as having attended Downington High School in Pennsylvania, and also took courses as the University of Pennsylvania’s famed Wharton School. He lists among his accomplishments three appearances on the athletic director’s honor roll at Dartmouth. 

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

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

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

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