9 killed in Army Black Hawk helicopter crash in Kentucky
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Nine people were killed in a crash involving two Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters conducting a nighttime training exercise in Kentucky, Army officials said Thursday.
Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for Fort Campbell, said the deaths happened Wednesday night in southwestern Kentucky during a routine training mission.
A statement from Fort Campbell says the two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, part of the 101st Airborne Division, crashed around 10 p.m. Wednesday in Trigg County, Kentucky. The 101st Airborne confirmed the crash about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Fort Campbell. The crash is under investigation.
The helicopters crashed in a field near a residential area with no injuries on the ground, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne deputy commander, said. One helicopter had five people aboard and the other had four, Lubas said.
Speaking a news conference Thursday morning, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the state would do everything it can to support the families of those killed.
“We’re going to do what we always do. We’re going to wrap our arms around these families, and we’re going to be there with them, not just for the days, but the weeks and the months and the years to come,” Beshear said.
Lubas said it is unclear what caused the crash. He said a team of investigators from Fort Rucker in Alabama was headed to the crash site.
“This was a training progression, and specifically they were flying a multi-ship formation, two ships, under night vision goggles at night,” Lubas said.
He said officials believe the accident occurred when “they were doing flying, not deliberate medical evacuation drills.”
The helicopters have something similar to the black boxes on passenger planes, which records the performance of aircrafts in flight and are used by investigators to analyze crashes.
“We’re hopeful that will provide quite a bit of information of what occurred,” Lubas said.
The Black Hawk helicopter is a critical work horse for the U.S. Army, used in security, transport, medical evacuations, search and rescue and other missions. The helicopters are known to many people from the 2001 movie “Black Hawk Down,” which is about a violent battle in Somalia eight years earlier.
Black Hawks were a frequent sight in the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan during the wars conducting combat missions and are also used by the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. They were also often used to ferry visiting senior leaders to headquarters locations in the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones.
Fort Campbell is located near the Tennessee border, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Nashville, and the crash occurred in the Trigg County, Kentucky, community of Cadiz.