2 Baton Rouge officers die in helicopter crash

March 26 (UPI) -- Two Louisiana police officers were killed when their law enforcement helicopter crashed in a field near Baton Rouge on Sunday, authorities said.

The crash occurred Sunday morning in Erwinville, La., located just to the northwest of Baton Rouge. The Baton Rouge Police Department confirmed in a statement on Facebook that two of its pilots died in the incident.


During a press conference, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul told reporters that the identities of the deceased would not be released at this time to allow friends and family the opportunity to be notified.

"Today is a very emotional day for the men and women of the Baton Rouge Police Department and all those in our law enforcement community," he said. "Right now, we're asking the community to lift our officers up in prayer, to lift the family members of the two heroes we lost today, to lift their families up in prayer during this difficult time."

The National Transportation Safety Board, which said it was investigating the crash, identified the aircraft via Twitter as an R-44 helicopter.

Little is known about the crash but according to information from the FlightAware aircraft-tracking website, the helicopter took off from Baton Rouge at 2:26 a.m. and crashed about 12 minutes later.


The Federal Aviation Administration is also investigating the crash, authorities said.

"Right now, I'm going to ask the same thing a family member asked when I just got off the phone: 'Right now, chief, we need prayers,'" Paul said. "So please, pray for the families of our officers as they go through this difficult time."

East Baton Rouge Parish Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said her office is working closely with police in the investigation and providing support to the families and colleagues of the fallen officers.

"These officers served our community with distinction and bravery, and we will forever be grateful for their service and sacrifice," she said in a statement.

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