UPDATE: Naval Academy Midshipman Dies in Car Crash
Austin Zalik, 21, a junior at the Naval Academy, was killed in a crash on Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania Friday.
UPDATE: (Saturday, 1:29 p.m.)—Austin Zalik, a 21-year-old junior at the Naval Academy died when his pickup truck rolled down an embankment and collided with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 78 in Pennsylvania at about 7 a.m. Friday.
“The Naval Academy is deeply saddened by this sudden and tragic loss,” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael Miller said. “Our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to Austin’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”
According to The Morning Call, Zalik was sleeping in his pickup truck, which was parked at a Greenwich Township gas station shortly before the accident. Authorities told the newspaper that Zalik's pickup may have drifted forward onto an I-78 off-ramp as he dozed.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Zalik was on summer leave from the academy. He was a member of the 9th Company and a ocean engineering major. Zalik had been selected as captain of the gymnastics team for the upcoming season.
The academy immediately dispatched a support group to Pennsylvania consisting of a senior officer, a senior chaplain and a member of the gymnastics staff. Cmdr. William Marks said a casualty-assistance officer also was assigned to the Zalik family to help with details like funeral arrangements, insurance and travel needs.
“Our deepest sympathy goes out to Austin’s family, classmates and friends during this tragic time,” Cmdr. William Marks said. “We will remember Austin and celebrate his life at a ceremony later this month as the Brigade of Midshipmen and Naval Academy family return home to Annapolis for the 2012 academic year."
The following tributes were among those left by friends on his Facebook page:
“Wow, you know nobody lived life like Austin Zalik. He never left a good opportunity pass. Glad I got to be your roommate for a few years at the Academy and see ya one last time over this summer in Cali. Shock is an understatement. RIP bud.”
"RIP to one of the realest, and down-to-earth kids. … What a great, genuinely nice kid. Weird, weird feeling, because I was thinking about ya this morning and last night while watching the gymnastic competitions...RIP brother.”