3 Dead in Military Helicopter Crash Were Experienced Pilots

3 Dead in Military Helicopter Crash Were Experienced Pilots
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is seen in a file photo. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)
The Associated Press

MENDON, N.Y.—The three National Guard members killed when a helicopter crashed in an upstate New York field this week were experienced pilots with past deployments to Afghanistan, officials said Friday.

Killed in the crash were Chief Warrant Officer 5 Steven Skoda, 54, of Rochester, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, 39, of Honeoye Falls, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel Prial, 30 of Rochester, according to the National Guard.

The UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field near Mendon, south of Rochester, around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. There were no survivors. Witnesses who called 911 reported hearing an engine sputtering and said the helicopter was flying very low.

An Army Safety Investigation team arrived at the site Thursday from Fort Rucker in Alabama.

Skoda served in the Army from 1985 to 1987 and joined the National Guard in 1987. He was a veteran of the Afghanistan War and was deployed there in 2013 and 2019.

Koch, a 20-year member of the Guard, served in the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. He also was a civilian pilot for the New York State Police. State police said he is survived by his wife and four children.

Prial served in the Army after earning a commission at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2012. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015. He became a captain before accepting an appointment as a warrant officer in the Guard so he could continue to fly, officials said.