Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk, United States Army: Fatal accident occurred November 23, 2015 at Fort Hood in Texas

Fort Hood ( November 27, 2015) Four soldiers killed Monday when a UH-60L helicopter crashed on post were identified Friday as Sgt. 1st Class Toby A. Childers, 40, a Hays, Kansas native; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stephen B. Cooley, 40, a Cantonment, Florida native; Sgt.1st Class Jason M. Smith, 35, a Destrehan, Louisiana native; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael F. Tharp, 40, a Katy, Texas native.

“The aircraft, assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment was on a routine training mission,” a First Army Division West press release said.

The crash occurred sometime before 5:50 p.m. in the northeast portion of the range, according to Fort Hood officials.

Emergency crews say the four were found dead when they got to the scene.

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of four First Army Division West Soldiers as a result of a UH-60L helicopter crash that happened Monday evening sometime after 5:49 p.m.,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West said in a statement Tuesday.

“The accident is under investigation and the names of the deceased will be released after the families have been notified. I want to extend my deepest sympathies and prayers to the Families and friends of the Soldiers involved in yesterday's crash,” he said.

A board is being assembled to investigate the cause of the crash.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, issued a statement Tuesday in which he said his thoughts and prayers were with those affected by the crash.

“This unfortunate accident serves as a reminder that the brave Americans selflessly serving our country face unimaginable dangers every day. Let us never forget the price these courageous men and women are willing to pay so that we may enjoy the many blessings of liberty,” he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott also extended condolences to the families of the four soldiers.

“Whether at home or abroad, our soldiers put their lives on the line every day to secure the freedoms we hold dear in Texas and the United States of America. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with the military community at Fort Hood during this difficult time,” he said.

The Black Hawk, the Army’s primary utility and medical evacuation helicopter, is a twin-engine, four-bladed, single-rotor aircraft that has been in use since 1979.

It can carry 11 troops with gear and is designed with some disassembly to be transported aboard a C-130 Hercules.

The last fatal accident involving a Fort Hood helicopter in Central Texas was on Nov. 29, 2004 when a 4th Infantry Division UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter struck a support cable on the 1,800-foot KXXV television tower while on a flight to the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana.

The helicopter crashed into a field near Bruceville-Eddy, killing all seven soldiers aboard including Brig. Gen. Charles B. Allen, the 4th Infantry Division's assistant commander.

An Army report determined that the crash resulted from the decision of the pilots to fly under visual flight rules in conditions that warranted the use of instruments.

The pilots took off in foggy conditions without filing an instrument flight plan, but then requested an instrument flight plan minutes before the crash.

On Jan. 12, 2009, a Texas National Guard Black Hawk crashed on the Texas A&M campus.

Lt. Zachary Cook, a member of the Texas A&M University class of 2008 who majored in mechanical engineering while in the ROTC program, died.

Cook was a member of the ROTC staff at Texas A&M.

The other four soldiers aboard the helicopter were seriously injured.

The helicopter crashed near the Corps of Cadets field on the school's College Station campus during ROTC Winter Field Training Exercises in which about 190 ROTC cadets were participating.

It was one of five that were being used to transport cadets to Camp Swift in Bastrop, the university said.

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