Nine Killed After Two US Army Helicopters Crash in Kentucky

Nine soldiers are dead after two HH60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed during a training mission in Trigg County, Kentucky, on March 29, the US Army confirmed on March 30.

The crash, which involved helicopters from the 101st Airborne Division, happened at around 10 pm during a “routine training mission,” US Army Fort Campbell said.

Kentucky Gov Andy Beshear described Thursday as a “tragic day.”

“The nine soldiers we lost are children of God,” he said. “They will be mourned and missed by their families and communities.” Credit: US Army Fort Campbell via Storyful

Video transcript

- [INAUDIBLE] in Cadiz, Kentucky. It resulted in the death of all nine service members aboard the aircraft. On behalf of Major General McGee and Command [INAUDIBLE], who are currently deployed to southeast Europe, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to the families of our fallen soldiers. We are currently in the process of notifying their families.

Until these notifications are complete, we are unable to provide specific details about our soldiers. We appreciate your patience and respect of the process, and we will provide additional details once all family members are notified. I would like to thank the first responders from Trigg County and the Kentucky State Police for the rapid and professional response and for their continued support.

The army has deployed an aircraft safety team at Fort Rucker, Alabama, who will arrive later today and will immediately initiate an investigation to help us understand what caused this crash in order to prevent accidents like this from happening again. This is a truly tragic loss for our families, for our division, and Fort Campbell, and our number one priority is caring for the families and the soldiers within our combat aviation [INAUDIBLE]. Our entire Fort Campbell community is surging resources and support, and our thoughts and prayers are with these families and these soldiers during this difficult time. Ladies and gentlemen, Governor Geshear would like to deliver som short remarks.

ANDY BESHEAR: Good morning. Today is a tough and a tragic day for Kentucky, for Fort Campbell, for the 101st. The nine individuals we lost are children of God.

They will be mourned and missed by their families, by their communities. We are blessed to live in the freest country in the history planet Earth, but we must remember that freedom relies on those who are willing to serve, some of which pay the ultimate price. I know a lot about loss in Kentucky, especially these last three years.

We're going to do what we always do. We're going to wrap our arms around these families. We're going to be there with them-- not just for the days but the weeks and the months in the years to come. We're going to let them know they are loved, they are special.

If they'll allow us to carry some of their grief, we'll do that for as long as we can. My faith teaches me that while the body is mortal, the soul is eternal. We will see them again.

This morning, I talked to Governor Bill Lee who expressed his grief for this loss and his similar commitment to these families. There are no state lines when it comes to taking care of these families, helping them with their grief. Finally, I also want to thank the first responders, who came from the entire region.

They're on the ground immediately after this incident doing everything that they could. The first responders included the Kentucky state police. Trigg County emergency management, Trigg and Christian County Sheriff's offices, Trigg and Marshall County rescue squads, East Golden pond and other Trigg County fire departments, Trigg County EMS, Christian county emergency management.

Here in Kentucky and I know in Tennessee, we love Fort Campbell, love all the people that live here and that work here. They're a part of our community of who we are. Their loss today is our loss, and we're going to stand with those that are here today, and again, we're going to make sure that these families know that they are loved and they are not alone thank you.

- Ladies and gentlemen, I'm prepared to answer your questions. Yes, ma'am.

- [INAUDIBLE] what does a training [INAUDIBLE]?

- Yes, ma'am. This was a training progression, and specifically, they were flying in a multi-ship formation, two ships, under night vision goggles at night. [INAUDIBLE].

- Michael Ward with Channel 4 out of Nashville. For folks unfamiliar with the training exercises, is it typical to have that many people on a helicopter? Was it five and four, or how many were on each helicopter, and is it typical to have that many on a helicopter in that sort of training exercise?

- Yes, sir. It was five and four, and that is fairly typical. There's a pilot, a co-pilot, a crew chief, and then often, you'll have medics or other personnel on the aircraft as well.

- [INAUDIBLE] take us [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah, yeah [INAUDIBLE].

- Yes, ma'am.

- [INAUDIBLE] ABC News. Do you have any-- or can you shed some insight onto the conditions perhaps leading up to the crash [INAUDIBLE]?

- We have a safety team coming from Fort Rucker, Alabama, who specialize in aircraft safety and specifically these investigations. We hope to have them on the ground sometime later today, and they're bringing a very diverse and talented team that will look at every possible contributing factor. I think in a short time, we'll have a much better understanding of what contributed to this accident. Yes, ma'am.

- [INAUDIBLE]. Were all of the military personnel on these helicopters based here at Fort Campbell? Were they from other installations, or--

- Yes, ma'am. Thank you. They were all based at Fort Campbell in the 101st airborne [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, ma'am.


- Yes, ma'am. They were a variant of the Black Hawk, and these specific aircraft were [INAUDIBLE] medical evacuation aircraft. However, we believe that they were-- the accident occurred when they were flying, not deliberate medical evacuation drills. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am.


- At this point, we don't know. We're hopeful that when we get the team from Fort Rucker here, they're able to pull some of that data out of the onboard computer so they have a better understanding of exactly what happened. Yes, ma'am.

- Was there any sort of signal radioing for help or anything like that previous to what's happening?

- No, ma'am. Yes, ma'am?


- Yes, ma'am. Despite our losses, we were lucky because they were able to land in an open field across from a residential area. So thankfully, there were no additional casualties or injuries as a result of the airplane crash. Yes, sir.

- [INAUDIBLE] these helicopters [INAUDIBLE] data from [INAUDIBLE] the Black Hawks [INAUDIBLE].

- Yes, sir. They do have something very similar to the black boxes that we see on the larger aircraft, and we're hopeful that that will provide quite a bit of information [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, ma'am.


- Yes, ma'am. We started next of kin notification early this morning. We have some family members that are in the local area that we were able to contact very quickly.

But we also have some family members across the United States and a few outside of the United States. So that process is ongoing. We're doing everything we can to notify families as quickly as we can, but I don't have a good estimation on when the final notification [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, sir.


- Yeah, I don't have an actual response time, but I will tell you that we know that they responded incredibly quickly and immediately established communication with our leadership here at Fort Campbell. And then jointly, they were able to secure that location and get the right folks there to [INAUDIBLE] hoping at the site. Yes, ma'am.

- Were there any [INAUDIBLE]

- No, ma'am. There were no transports off the [INAUDIBLE]. Yes, sir.

- How was [INAUDIBLE] radio communication [INAUDIBLE]

- Yes, we had other aircraft in the vicinity. So we were actually notified via multiple means. One was by the Trigg County first responders, was one of the calls. And then we also had aircraft that were able to quickly move to that location and actually stayed overhead for quite some time.

- We'll take two more questions.

- Yes, ma'am.


- That I will have to follow up with you. I'm not sure the actual date of the last accident, especially to this extent. But I can follow up with you after this with an answer. Yes, ma'am.


- Yeah, that's a great question. Everything we do, safety is integrated into this. And for context, when we do any training but especially aviation training, they do very, very detailed planning, very detailed rehearsals.

Depending on the risk of the operation they're doing, there's different levels of approval from the command. So we will always relook our safety precautions and our measures. But this was-- like all of these training events, safety is a primary focus for us. Thank you.

- Thank you all for attending. This concludes the press conference. You'll be able to find a press kit if you are [INAUDIBLE] provided [INAUDIBLE]. Thank you.

- Thank you.