Academy senior killed in car crash

July 30, 2008|By Josh Mitchell | Josh Mitchell,Sun reporter

A 21-year-old Naval Academy senior from Georgia was killed early Monday when his car crashed in a wooded area in Virginia, authorities said yesterday.

Midshipman 1st Class Aaron H. Reaves was heading north on U.S. 301 shortly after 3:30 p.m. when he lost control of his 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt and crashed into a tree near Fort A.P. Hill, an Army installation southeast of Fredericksburg, a Virginia State Police spokesman said. Midshipman Reaves, of Kennesaw, Ga., was pronounced dead at the scene.

Fatigue might have contributed to the crash, said the spokesman, Sgt. Thomas Cunningham. There was no sign of alcohol use or excessive speed, and Midshipman Reaves was wearing a seat belt, Sergeant Cunningham said. Police are investigating.

Joel Reaves said his son was driving to Annapolis after spending the weekend with family in South Carolina and Georgia. He left his parents' Atlanta-area home Sunday evening and had been on the road for about 10 hours when the crash occurred, Mr. Reaves said.

He said he talked to his son about 30 minutes before the crash and that he sounded fine. "He said, 'Dad, I'm down to my last cell. Dad, I need to concentrate on driving,' " Mr. Reaves said.

Mr. Reaves described his son as a dedicated runner who worked hard to meet the academy's rigorous academic standards. He called Midshipman Reaves a "dream kid to raise."

Midshipman Reaves, an English major who planned to become a surface warfare officer in the Navy, was born on a military installation in Virginia's Hampton Roads area and moved with his family to various cities.

He attended high school in the Atlanta area, where he joined the ROTC and decided to follow the military path of his father, a 1981 Naval Academy graduate.

Senior Chief Jeffrey Carlsen, Midshipman Reaves' senior enlisted officer at the academy, said Midshipman Reaves took his duty to country seriously and helped classmates who struggled physically.

"He was one of the best mentors in the company," Chief Carlsen said. "He had military bearing beyond reproach. His demeanor with his classmates and his underclass was always professional."

A memorial service will be held Tuesday in Georgia. Mr. Reaves said the family has requested that Midshipman Reaves be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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