9 service members dead as 2 Black Hawk helicopters crash in Kentucky

Two Black Hawk helicopters crashed Wednesday night in Kentucky. File Photo by Suzanne M. Jenkins/Air Force/UPI
Two Black Hawk helicopters crashed Wednesday night in Kentucky. File Photo by Suzanne M. Jenkins/Air Force/UPI | License Photo

March 30 (UPI) -- Nine service members died when two HH60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed during a training exercise in Trigg County, Ky., late Wednesday, officials said on Thursday.

Officials said in a news conference that the helicopters, part of the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell in Kentucky, were taking part in a routine mission when the incident occurred.


Five service members were on one helicopter while four were manning the second. Army officials said next of kin were still being notified about the incident.

"Today is a tough and tragic day for Kentucky, Fort Campbell and for the 101st," said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. "The nine individuals we lost are children of God. They will be mourned and missed by their families, by their communities."

The crash happened near the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Beshear said he spoke to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee before the news conference and thanked emergency crews for their efforts. An official said other aircraft were in the area at the time of the accident allowing for a rapid response to the crash site.

"My heart goes out to the families of these service members and to the members of the 101st Airborne Division who bravely and proudly serve out country each and every day," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement mourning the deaths of the nine soldiers.


"I'm saddened by this tragic loss, and I am working with Army leadership to make sure our troops and their families receive the care that they need in the wake of this accident."

Other lawmakers expressed their condolences as well.

"I am devastated to learn about the Army helicopter accident over Kentucky involving our brave 101st Airborne," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on Twitter. "My team is in contact with the Army and authorities on the ground. Please pray for our service members and their families as we learn more."

State police, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management and local officials were responding to the scene.

The incident comes more than a month after two members of the Tennessee National Guard were killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in northern Alabama.

According to a report from the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, the Army averages five deaths a year due to so-called on-duty aviation mishaps.

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