Three National Guard members died Wednesday after their helicopter crashed in Mendon, New York, just south of Rochester.
The helicopter had been on a routine training flight, the Associated Press reported. It departed from the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport and crashed in a field around 6:30 p.m.
Helicopter Crash Under Investigation
The helicopter was a member of the C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion. It was a UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Meanwhile, the crash remains under investigation. The New York National Guard will conduct a joint investigation with the Federal Aviation Administration. They expect to finish a preliminary investigation soon and will stay at the scene through Thursday.
“This is a heavy, heavy burden upon all of us,” Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said at a news conference Wednesday night, per the Democrat and Chronicle. “These are our freedom providers… just showing again that freedom is not free. We lost three great Americans today in the service of our country.”
‘A Very Tight-Knit Unit’
Early 911 reports suggest there were sputtering sounds of an engine, and the helicopter was flying lower than normal, Baxter said. He added that authorities have been in touch with the control tower at the Greater Rochester International Airport. But they do not yet know whether the helicopter was communicating with the tower when the crash happened.
“This is a very tight-knit unit,” Baxter also added.
Moreover, on Thursday, the flags on all state buildings will fly at half-staff to honor the National Guard members who died.
“National Guard members are our citizen-soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “I extend prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of these honorable heroes who we will never forget.”