Three Army National Guard soldiers are dead after a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter went down in Minnesota, shortly after leaving from a military facility in St. Cloud.
According to ABC News, the helicopter reportedly started having undisclosed difficulties early in the flight when its crew sent out a “mayday” call shortly after takeoff.
The helicopter then lost communication with its tower and was later found to have crashed 16 miles from the facility.
The Star Tribune reports Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the deaths on Thursday evening where he said his “heart breaks for the families.”
Walz, who served in the National Guard for 24 years, added: “The coming days will be dark and difficult.”
The Minnesota National Guard shared details of the crash over social media, including the timeline of events and number of casualties: “On or about 2:05 p.m. on December 5, 2019, the Minnesota National Guard lost contact with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter while it was conducting a maintenance test flight that originated from St. Cloud, Minnesota.”
The pair of tweets continued: “The Minnesota National Guard and local emergency services are currently trying to determine the location and status of the aircraft. The helicopter had three Minnesota National Guard personnel on board.
The Minnesota National Guard and local emergency services are currently trying to determine the location and status of the aircraft. The helicopter had three Minnesota National Guard personnel on board.
— MN National Guard (@MNNationalGuard) December 5, 2019
The Star Tribune reports:
Investigators from Fort Rucker in Alabama are headed to Minnesota to help determine the cause of the crash, which occurred in a line of trees far from any homes.
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National Guard officials said the names of the those who died will be released after their next of kin are notified.
“Our Minnesota National Guard family is devastated by the deaths of these soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard. “Our priority right now is ensuring that our families are taken care of.”
ABC News adds:
Information about the helicopter’s flight destination was not immediately available, Army Col. Joe Sharkey, director of communications for the Minnesota National Guard, told ABC News after the helicopter was reported missing.
Army Safety Center investigators from Fort Rucker in Alabama were expected to arrive at the scene on Friday, Walz said. Chief Deputy Dan Miller of the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office said the crash site was not close to any homes.
JUST IN: Three soldiers aboard a Minnesota Army National Guard helicopter were killed after the UH-60 Black Hawk crashed during a flight from an Army aviation facility in St. Cloud. https://t.co/solxPnsgwZ pic.twitter.com/J928Nn4r8d
— ABC News (@ABC) December 6, 2019