TRIGG COUNTY, Ky. (WKRN) — All nine service members aboard two Fort Campbell Black Hawk helicopters died after a crash in Kentucky Wednesday night.
Two 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) helicopters crashed at approximately 10 p.m. Wednesday in Trigg County, near Highway 68, according to Nondice Thurman, Media Relations Officer for Fort Campbell.
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The aircraft were two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. During a press conference Thursday morning, Brig. Gen. John Lubas said the helicopters are typically used for medical evacuations.
Crewmembers were flying the helicopters during a routine training mission when an “incident” occurred. Lubas said they were flying a multi-ship formation and using night vision goggles, but he did not provide any further details on the training.
It is still unclear if the helicopters collided. According to a tweet from the 101st Airborne Division, the incident resulted in several “casualties.” Lubas said there were four people aboard one helicopter and five aboard the other, which are normal crew numbers.
All nine crewmembers were based at Fort Campbell in the 101st Airborne Division. Both helicopters landed in an open field across from a residential area. Lubas said there were no additional causalities as a result of the crash.
In a press release from Fort Campbell, officials said, “The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families.” Their families were still being notified Thursday morning.
Lubas said more information will be released after all nine families are notified. Some families are local to the area, but others live across the nation, and Lubas said some live outside of the United States.
News 2’s sister station, WNCN, has confirmed the identity of one of the victims — Caleb Gore.
He is the son of Tim Gore, a pastor at Fremont Missionary Baptist Church, according to Dr. Keith Hudson of the Neuse Baptist Association in Wayne County, North Carolina.
Garrett Mitchell confirmed to News 2 his brother, 30-year-old Taylor Mitchell of Alabama, was one of the nine killed when the two Black Hawks crashed. Taylor had been in the military for nine years.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear tweeted late Wednesday night “fatalities are expected” in connection with the crash. Beshear announced that he would be at Fort Campbell Thursday morning, “to support our troops and their families after last night’s tragic incident.”
During the press conference Thursday morning, Beshear thanked the first responders who he said, “were on the ground immediately” and offered his support to the families of the nine crewmembers.
“Today is a tough and tragic day for Kentucky, for Fort Campbell and the 101st,” Beshear said. “Their loss today is our loss. We’re going to stand with those who are here today and we’re going to make sure these families know they are loved and not alone.”
City of Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts released a statement after hearing about the loss of life.
“The hearts of our city are broken today at the tragic news of nine soldiers lost in the helicopter crash at Fort Campbell. Cynthia (Clarksville’s First Lady) and I are praying for the families and leadership impacted by this news. The city has communicated with the leadership at Fort. Campbell that we are ready to help in any way that is needed. We are also grateful for the service and sacrifice of the soldiers and their families who nobly serve and protect our freedom.”
Mayor Joe Pitts, City of Clarksville
Montgomery County Mayor Wes Golden also released a statement following the deadly crash:
“Our community grieves for the nine lives lost in last night’s tragic helicopter crash in Trigg County, Kentucky. We mourn for the soldiers and for the nine families who will forever be affected by the loss of their loved ones.
Tragedies involving Fort Campbell service members affect everyone in Montgomery County because we are one big community. The service members and their families are our friends and neighbors. Our children attend school together, we live next door to each other, and we worship in the same churches.
Montgomery County is here for the families and for those who served with the nine service members of the 101st who died in the incident involving the two Black Hawk helicopters. We love them and are praying for them. Whatever we as a community can do to help, we will. If there is one thing this week has taught us, we need to take time to tell and show our family and friends how much we love them.”
Mayor Wes Golden, Montgomery County
Kentucky State Police are currently working with Fort Campbell officials, Kentucky Emergency Management, and local officials at the scene. They currently have a roadblock set up near the crash site.
According to police, the debris field is sizable. Troopers and other first responders have had to secure a large area for the search. Lubas said a specialized team from Alabama will be investigating “every possible contributing factor” of the crash.
HH-60 Black Hawk Helicopters
According to the USAASC, the HH-60 Black Hawk is a utility tactical transport helicopter for the Army. “It provides air assault, general support, aeromedical evacuation, command and control, and special operations support to combat, stability and support operations.”
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.