Accident involving two Fort Campbell Blackhawk helicopters claims lives of nine service members
Nine service members from Fort Campbell have died in a crash involving two Army Blackhawk helicopters in western Kentucky. The crash happened in Trigg County around 10 p.m. Wednesday.
In a news conference at Fort Campbell Thursday morning, Brig. Gen. John Lubas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said the Blackhawk helicopters perform medical evacuations and were on a routine training mission.
All of the crash victims were from the 101st Airborne Division, the Army's only air assault division.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called it a tough and tragic day. He said the state would do everything it could to support the families of those killed.
“We are blessed to live in the freest country on planet Earth, but we must remember that freedom relies on those willing to serve, some of which pay the ultimate price,” Beshear said.
Those on board the helicopters didn’t issue calls for help before the crash and weather conditions were favorable in the area when the accident occurred.
Brig. Gen. John Lubas, the 101st Airborne deputy commander, said Thursday that the helicopters were flying in multi-ship formation, under night vision goggles when the crash occurred.
Five military members were on board one aircraft and four on the other. Lubas said it's typical to have that many occupants, which usually include a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, and medics.
The military choppers went down in a large field near a residential area and there were no injuries on the ground.
Ft. Campbell, which straddles the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, hasn’t released the identities of the crash victims. That information was being withheld as the Army worked to notify family members.
The helicopters had flight recorders, which Army officials hope will provide some answers. A team from Ft. Rucker, Alabama, that specializes in aircraft safety and investigations was headed to the scene. Such investigations often take months.
Two Tennessee National Guard pilots died in February when the Black Hawk helicopters they were in crashed in Alabama during a training exercise.
Last month, two Tennessee National Guard pilots were killed when their Blackhawk crashed on an Alabama highway during a training exercise.
“Anytime there’s the potential for a fleet of aircraft to have some type of systemic issue. I’m not aware of anything like that for the Blackhawk," said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, press secretry for the Penagon. "We need to allow time for the investigation to run its course.”
The last reported helicopter crash at Fort Campbell was in 2018 when two soldiers were killed during a training exercise while flying an AH-64E Apache helicopter. Prior to that, there was a reported crash in 2017 that killed two soldiers.