Army: 9 killed when Black Hawk helicopters crash during training

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Nine soldiers died Wednesday night when two Black Hawk helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division crashed in Kentucky, according to officials at Fort Campbell.

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The two HH60 Black Hawk helicopters were on a routine training mission when the collision happened at around 10 p.m. local time, Army officials confirmed overnight.

Update 4:22 p.m. EDT March 31: In a news release, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) identified the nine service members who were killed Wednesday evening. The identifications of the service members became available after their families were notified.

• Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33, Milton, Florida;

• Cpl. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, Austin, Texas;

• Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36, Jackson, Missouri;

• Sgt. Isaacjohn Gayo, 27, Los Angeles;

• Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Gore, 25, Morehead City, North Carolina;

• Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32, Cape Coral, Florida;

• Staff Sgt. Taylor Mitchell, 30, Mountain Brook, Alabama;

• Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32, Rolla, Missouri;

• Sgt. David Solinas Jr, 23, Oradell, New Jersey.,

The nine died during a planned training exercise. The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) said an Army aviation safety team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, is conducting an investigation into the accident.

“This is a time of great sadness for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The loss of these Soldiers will reverberate through our formations for years to come,” said Maj. Gen. JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell in the news release. “Now is the time for grieving and healing. The whole division and this community stand behind the families and friends of our fallen soldiers.”

— Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 10:40 a.m. EDT March 30: Authorities declined to immediately identify the nine soldiers killed in Wednesday night’s helicopter crash as next-of-kin notifications continued.

“We started next-of-kin notification early this morning,” Brig. Gen. John Lucas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division said Thursday morning at a news conference. “We have some family members that are in the local area that we were able to contact fairly quickly but we also have some family members across the United States and a few outside of the United States, so that process is ongoing. We’re doing everything we can to notify families as quickly as we can.”

Lucas confirmed the nine killed were the only ones on board the two helicopters. They were all based at Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division.

“This is a truly tragic loss for our families, our division and Fort Campbell,” Lucas said. “Our No. 1 priority is caring for the families and the soldiers within our Combat Aviation Brigade.”

— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT March 30: Authorities on Thursday confirmed the nine soldiers killed in Wednesday night’s training crash were the only ones on board the helicopters at the time of the collision. They were all based at Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division.

The soldiers were using night vision and traveling in medical evacuation aircraft, though Brig. Gen. John Lucas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said they were believed to be flying and not doing “deliberate medical evacuation drills” at the time of the crash.

“At this point, we don’t know (what caused the crash),” Lucas said Thursday at a news conference. “We’re hopeful that when we get the team from Fort Rucker here and they’re able to pull some of the data out of the onboard computers that we’ll have a better understanding of what happened.”

An investigative team is set to arrive in Kentucky later Thursday from Fort Rucker in Alabama.

— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Update 9:13 a.m. EDT March 30: A spokesperson from Fort Campbell confirmed to The Washington Post that nine people died in the crash.

Spokesperson Nondice Thurman told the newspaper that more information would be provided later Thursday. It was not immediately clear whether anyone else was injured in the collision.

In a post on Twitter, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear asked that people “pray for all those affected” following early reports of the crash.

— Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Original report: The crash, which happened in Trigg Country, Kentucky, resulted “in several casualties,” officials from the division, which is also known as the “Screaming Eagles,” said on Twitter. No other details about the crash, including the number of people aboard the helicopters, were released.

“The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families,” Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for the Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office, said in a statement. A press conference is scheduled for later Thursday morning.

Trigg County is about 25 miles northwest of Fort Campbell.

A Black Hawk helicopter belonging to the Tennessee National Guard crashed in February in Madison County, Alabama.


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