Officials said foul play was not suspected and that the cause of death was under investigation. A senior political science major, Forney was a starting offensive guard on Navy’s football team. He was also a standout player at Bethesda’s Georgetown Preparatory School, from which he graduated in 2015.
“The entire Naval Academy family — the Brigade of Midshipmen, the faculty, staff, and coaches — are heartbroken over the tragic and unexpected loss of Midshipman David Forney,” Vice Adm. Sean Buck, the 63rd superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, said in a statement. “On behalf of the Naval Academy family, my wife, Joanne, and I extend our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the Forney family, their friends, as well as to David’s extended Naval Academy family.”
Forney is survived by his parents, Erika and Rick, and his three siblings, Chris, Rebekah and Erik, according to information provided by the Naval Academy.
In an earlier statement, officials said students, faculty and staff on the campus were notified of Forney’s death Friday and that counseling services were being offered. News of the death spread quickly through campus, and friends and teammates began posting tributes on social media. Many took to Twitter to share prayers and condolences for the family and images of the number 68, Forney’s number on the team.
“Words cannot express this feeling but I know God has a plan. I’ll miss you more than you know. You were always my voice of reason and I’m going to make you proud,” wrote Diego Fagot, a sophomore midshipman and Navy linebacker.
Michael Cabrera, a junior on the team wrote, “I’m sick to my stomach right now. I’m still in disbelief . . . my heart goes out to the family and friends struggling like my brothers and me. I’m thankful I was given a chance to know you and be your teammate. I know you’ll be watching over us. Love you g.”
“Simply distraught and heartbroken,” wrote Jeremy Griffis, a fellow senior and teammate.
The news of Forney’s death hit a student body that was still reeling from the death of Duke Carrillo, 21, of Flower Mound, Tex., who collapsed Feb. 9 during a portion of the Navy’s semiannual physical readiness test.
Carrillo was a quantitative economics major and a member of the academy’s flight training squadron. His brothers, Dylan and Jake, are both Naval Academy midshipmen. Buck called Carrillo’s death a “sudden and tragic loss.” The cause of Carrillo’s death has not been determined.
Attending the Naval Academy was always in the back of Forney’s mind: His father, a former minor league pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles’ farm system who grew up in Annapolis, started talking to his son about going to Navy when he was in middle school, The Washington Post reported in 2014.
Forney developed into a standout offensive tackle at Georgetown Prep, earning first-team all-state honors from the Associated Press his senior year, and had choices when it came time to make his college decision. He stuck with Navy for the family atmosphere, the proximity to his family’s home and because Navy was the first offer Forney received. Coach Ken Niumatalolo’s staff offered Forney a spot on the team on his birthday.
At Navy, Forney showed off noteworthy athleticism for a 6-foot-3, 305-pound offensive lineman. He played in every game of his sophomore and junior seasons and started every game his senior year, helping lead a rejuvenation of Navy’s offensive line that led to one of the Mids’ most productive seasons of offense in years. Forney earned first-team all-American Athletic Conference honors in 2019.
“Words cannot express our pain and sorrow,” Niumatalolo said in a statement. “First and foremost, our deepest condolences to the Forney family. The Navy Football Brotherhood is not a team, we are a family. We are devastated to have lost one of our brothers. We all loved — and will always love — David. We pray for strength during this most difficult time.”
In December, at the annual Army-Navy game, Forney led his team out of the tunnel carrying the American flag. Navy went on to beat Army for the first time in four years, in no small part because of Forney and his linemates.