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‘It appears to be a horrible accident.’ Police investigate death of Dartmouth graduate near campus bridge

The Dartmouth College campus in Hanover, NH, on May 2, 2018.Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for the Boston Globe

The death of a former Dartmouth College student who returned to campus to celebrate his COVID-delayed graduation was a “horrible accident” where alcohol may have played a role, police in Hanover, N.H., said Tuesday.

David J. Gallagher was fatally injured early Monday while with friends near the Ledyard Bridge that spans the Connecticut River and connects New Hampshire with Vermont, said Hanover Police Lieutenant Michael G. Schibuola.

“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 said. “Our initial take is that it appears to be a horrible accident.”


He emphasized the investigation is ongoing and that police do not expect to get full autopsy results from the state medical examiner’s office for several weeks. Schibuola said the area around the Ledyard Bridge is historically a popular place for students from the college to hang out.

According to the Hanover police and fire departments, Gallagher and his family were in town Monday so he could participate in his graduation ceremony, which had been postponed by the Ivy League school in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the college, Gallagher’s LinkedIn account, and sports stories from The Dartmouth, Gallagher was a member of the college lacrosse team from 2016 until graduation. During a 2017 game, Gallagher scored four goals, The Dartmouth reported.

Around 1:48 a.m. Monday, Gallagher’s friends called 911 reporting that he was seriously injured and lying on the bank of the Connecticut River, Schibuola said. First responders found Gallagher on an embankment about 100 yards south of the Ledyard Bridge and used a pontoon boat to bring him to a waiting ambulance.

Gallagher was taken to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where he died from severe injuries, authorities said.


The commencement ceremony was held Saturday and was attended by more than 800 graduates, according to the college’s website. Gallagher was 24 years old and originally from Pennsylvania, officials said.

John R. Ellement can be reached at Follow him @JREbosglobe.