Tragedy struck yet again on Tuesday when two veteran Tennessee cops were killed after the helicopter they occupied crashed into a power line. Witnesses stated that before the crash, the aircraft had been flying “erratically.” Authorities have since launched an investigation.
According to the Daily Mail, the downed helicopter had been occupied by veteran cops Sergeant Lee Russel and passenger Matt Blansett. Russel served as a TN Highway Patrol trooper and Blansett served as a Marion County Sheriff’s deputy.
Per the outlet, the crash occurred around 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday, leaving the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate. NTSB currently has the lead on the investigation.
So far, authorities have not been able to pinpoint the cause of the crash though witnesses have said they saw the helicopter flying in circles before tangoing with nearby powerlines. In recalling the crash, one of the Tennessee cops’ neighbors said, “It kind of dipped a little bit and waggled a little bit then there was a bright flash of light and puff of smoke.”
A second witness to the crash also recalled the terrifying moment they thought the downed power line would strike their car.
“It hit one of the power lines that went across the highway,” they remembered, “and sure enough the power lines started gliding down toward me and all I could think was it’s going to land on top of me.”
Tennessee Cops’ Friends, Family, Neighbors Speak Out About Crash
Following his Tuesday death, Tennessee cop Matt Blansett left behind his wife Codie and their two sons, Maddox and Banks. The loss of two more law enforcement officers is especially upsetting. That said, the pain felt by their families must be unimaginable. Blansett’s friends and neighbors took to social media following the officer’s death. One neighbor said the veteran cop was always one to “lend a helping hand.”
More importantly, Blansett’s friends and neighbors spoke about the shared feeling of community between them and the late cop. Neighbor Karie Rosado wrote in a post, “We live on a private road where all of our neighbors look out for each other like family. We are blessed to live in a small town where people come together as a community and look out for each other.”
In addressing the search for the Tennessee cops post-crash, she continued, “After the search tonight…on the other side of the mountain I was hoping for good news. It was a somber evening and I was trying to stay positive. I know Matt[,] he is a warrior, so I was in denial and just hoping it wasn’t true.”
Rosado also addressed the late Tennessee cop’s wife Codie and their children in her heartfelt message. She wrote near the end of the address, “Codie Blansett[,] you Maddox and Banks are in our prayers tonight. We love y’all and are here for you.”