Three members of the National Guard were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed during a routine training flight in western New York.
The three soldiers were in a New York Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter when it crashed in a farmer’s field in the town of Mendon, the state military affairs division said.
The names of the killed soldiers weren’t immediately released.
Images of the helicopter crash scene posted by local news media showed the aircraft wreckage burning on a snow-covered field in the town that is located some 13 miles south of Rochester.
The helicopter flew out of the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport, and was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, according to Eric Durr, public affairs director of the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement shortly after the incident saying that he was devastated by the news and was ordering flags to be lowered to half-staff Thursday “in honor of and in tribute to these New Yorkers who dedicated their service to nation and state.”
“National Guard members are our citizen-soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and 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,” Cuomo said in a statement.
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter at a press briefing called the three national guard members “great Americans.”
He said there were no survivors of the crash, and that witnesses who called emergency services reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the aircraft was flying very low.
“This is a heavy, heavy burden on all of us,” Baxter said. “We’re waiting for the National Guard for confirmation of who was on board and identification of our great soldiers.”
“Keep them in your minds and your prayers,” he added.
The state military affairs division said the crash is under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would take part.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.