Three New York National Guard soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed while on a routine training mission in upstate New York, according to the New York State Department of Military and Maritime Affairs.
The military and the Monroe County Sheriff’s office said the accident occurred in Mindon, about 17 miles south of Rochester.
Monroe County Sheriff, Todd K. Baxter, said at a press conference that the multiple calls of an aircraft in distress were received around 6:30 pm.
“According to 911 reports … there were crackling calls and engine sounds and that the plane was flying very low and below normal,” Baxter said.
First responders arrived to find the helicopter on fire.
“They have entered life-saving mode, trying to save anyone who could be on the plane or in the area,” Baxter said, adding that the debris field is expanding into some buildings in the city now, or about 100 feet in each direction.
The helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk for medical evacuation. The Military and Maritime Affairs Division said the incident was under investigation, adding that no further information was immediately available.
Baxter said the Monroe County Police Office will conduct a preliminary investigation into the accident. His office will then hand the investigation over to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Guard.
“This is a heavy and heavy burden on us all. These are our providers of freedom … Today we lost three brave Americans serving our country,” Baxter said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement that he was “shocked” by the deaths.
“Members of the National Guard are our citizen soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and I offer prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the families of these honorable heroes, their loved ones, and fellow soldiers that we will never forget.”
The ruler directed flags at all the state buildings to be lowered to half of the employees to honor the victims.