A 31-year-old Navy SEAL from New Hampshire who played baseball at Stonehill College died Saturday in a parachute accident during training in DeLand, Fla., the Navy said.
William “Blake” Marston died while making a landing at the airport.
“The entire Naval Special Warfare community extends its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of our teammate, Blake,” said Lieutenant David Lloyd, a US Navy spokesman. “He will be missed by all who knew him. An investigation into this incident is underway.”
Marston, who was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team, had been in the Navy for six years and completed SEAL training in 2009, Lloyd said in an e-mail.
Lloyd said he was unable to provide details of the accident while an investigation was underway. But police said Marston was found on the ground unconscious and with a broken leg. He was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
A witness told police that something flew off Marston’s parachute as he was in free fall between 40 to 60 feet above ground.
Marston, of Concord, “always demonstrated an incredible commitment to his fellow service members,” US Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire said in a statement.
New Hampshire’s junior senator, Kelly Ayotte, said in a statement that Marston died while “training to conduct dangerous missions that keep Americans safe. We owe our freedom and security to men like Blake.”
Marston graduated from the Derryfield School in Manchester, N.H., in 2001. A decorated member of the high school’s baseball team, he pitched eight no-hitters, served as captain, and was a three-time all-state player, school officials said.
He went on to study criminology at Stonehill College in Easton, graduating in 2007, college officials said.
He played on the college’s baseball team for three years, most often as a second baseman. Stonehill College baseball coach Patrick Boen said Monday in a telephone interview that Marston was a gifted athlete and the hardest worker on the team.
“He was a terrific teammate and a leader who led by example,” Boen said. “Other players on the team looked up to him because of how hard he worked.”
During Marston’s senior year, several pitchers on the team were injured. Marston was the first one to volunteer to step in and pitch, Boen recalled.