Nine people were killed in a crash involving two US army Black Hawk helicopters conducting a night-time training exercise in Kentucky, a military spokesperson said.
Nondice Thurman, a spokesperson for Fort Campbell, said on Thursday morning the deaths happened the previous night in south-western Kentucky during a routine training mission.
A statement from Fort Campbell said the two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, part of the 101st Airborne Division, crashed around 10pm on Wednesday in Trigg county, Kentucky. The 101st Airborne confirmed the crash about 30 miles north-west of Fort Campbell. The crash was under investigation.
The helicopters landed in a field near a residential area with no injuries on the ground, Brig Gen John Lubas, the 101st Airborne deputy commander, said. One helicopter had five people onboard and the other had four, Lubas said.
Speaking to reporters, the Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear, said the state would do everything it could to support the families of those killed.
“We’re going to do what we always do, we’re going to wrap our arms around these families, we’re going to be with them for the weeks and days to come,” Beshear said.
Fort Campbell is near the Tennessee border, about 60 miles north-west of Nashville, Tennessee. The crash occurred in Cadiz, in Trigg county, Kentucky.
Nick Tomaszewski, who lives about a mile from where the crash occurred, said he saw two helicopters flying over his house.
“For whatever reason last night my wife and I were sitting there looking out on the back deck and I said, ‘Wow, those two helicopters look low and they look kind of close to one another tonight,’” he said.
The helicopters flew over, looped back around and moments later the Tomaszewskis “saw what looked like a firework went off in the sky”.
“All of the lights in their helicopter went out. It was like they just poofed … and then we saw a huge glow like a fireball,” Tomaszewski said.
Flyovers happen almost daily and the helicopters typically fly low but not so close, he said.
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“There were two, back to back. We typically see one and then see another one a few minutes later, and we just saw two of them flying together last night,” he said.
Members of the Kentucky senate stood for a moment of silence on Thursday morning in honor of the crash victims.
“We do not know the extent of what has gone on, but I understand it is bad and there has been a substantial loss of life of our military,” the Senate president, Robert Stivers, told the chamber.