By KIMBERLY CHANDLER, LOLITA C. BALDOR and KIMBERLEE KRUESI
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A Black Hawk helicopter from the Tennessee National Guard crashed Wednesday in Alabama, killing two crew members, the Tennessee National Guard said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two Tennessee National Guardsmen, and our prayers are with their families during this heartbreaking tragedy,” Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, said in a statement. “We ask Tennesseans to join us in supporting their families during this time of unthinkable grief.”
According to Ross, two members of the Tennessee National Guard were killed during a flight- training mission. The helicopter crashed around 3 p.m. local time and caught fire.
The Madison County sheriff’s office said there were no injuries to anyone on the ground when the helicopter crashed.
“We have no survivors,” sheriff’s Investigator Brent Patterson said. “We have a crime scene here. We have it taped off.”
The UH-60 helicopter, more widely known as a Black Hawk, crashed in the unincorporated community of Harvest along Alabama Highway 53, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said in a statement.
The highway along which the crash happened passes through commercial areas northwest of Huntsville that are bounded by subdivisions, forests and fields south of the state line with Tennessee. The sheriff’s office said in a statement that the crash was causing heavy traffic delays that are expected to last into Thursday.
Harvest is just northwest of Huntsville, which is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal. The once rural area has become increasingly suburban and is about 90 miles south of Nashville.
“Maria and I are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two Tennessee National Guard members,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Wednesday. “Please join us in lifting their families up in prayer and support during this time of unspeakable grief.”
A spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration referred questions to the military.
“Governor Lee, Alabamians will continue to uplift in prayer the families affected by this heartbreaking tragedy,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said. “The Guardsmen who lost their lives today will be remembered as heroes. The people of Alabama stand with our neighbors in Tennessee.”
Local news outlets showed large plumes of black smoke rising from the crash site. Multiple emergency response vehicles were on scene.
“I’m deeply saddened by the fatal helicopter crash that happened in Madison County today,” U.S. Rep. Dale Strong, who represents Alabama’s 5th District, said in a tweet. “My heart hurts for those who lost their lives in this tragic incident and for their families as they learn of this news.”
Over the years, a handful of Black Hawk helicopters were in crashes during training exercises.
In 2022 in Utah, whiteout conditions caused a Black Hawk helicopter pilot during a training exercise to lose sight of where he was trying to land, causing a crash with another helicopter near a Utah ski resort. None of men and women aboard the helicopter or the dozens of skiers nearby at the resort were injured.
In 2021, three Idaho Army National Guard pilots died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Boise during a training flight.
And in 2020, two soldiers were killed and three were injured when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a training exercise off Southern California’s coast.
Chandler reported from Montgomery, Alabama, Baldor reported from Chicago and Kruesi reported from Nashville, Tennessee.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.