LEONARDTOWN, Md. â€” A Black Hawk helicopter crashed onto a golf course in Maryland during a routine training flight, killing one crew member and injuring the two others on board, the U.S. Army said.
The cause of the Monday crash is under investigation, the Army Military District of Washington said in a statement. One witness described pieces falling from the aircraft and another said it was spinning before it went down.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss within our community,” said Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, commanding general of the Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “Our condolences go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time.”
Three crew members were aboard the UH-60 Black Hawk for what the Army said was a training exercise when it crashed in Leonardtown, about 60 miles (97 kilometres) southeast of Washington, D.C., around 1:40 p.m. They were not identified, pending notification of relatives.
One person is in serious condition and one is in critical condition, the statement said. They were being treated at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
The aircraft was from the 12th Aviation Battalion, stationed at Davison Airfield in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
Kevin Bowen, who works in the pro shop of the Breton Bay Golf and Country Club, said he saw the helicopter “flying kind of low” and then “saw it spinning” before it went down between the third and fourth holes of the course.
Dorothy Harper, who lives across the street from the golf course, said she saw the helicopter just before it crashed.
“I was outside in my front yard when I saw the helicopter come over right across the street from my house. I saw pieces actually falling off the helicopter,” she said.
Harper said she didn’t see smoke or flames, “just pieces falling out of the sky.”
Shortly after, emergency vehicles started rolling in, she said.
Army investigators were driving around the course in golf carts Monday evening, placing evidence markers near pieces of debris.
A team from the Army Combat Readiness Center, in Fort Rucker, Alabama, will be on site Tuesday to conduct the investigation, the Army’s statement said.
Black Hawks are mainly used for transporting troops, supplies and equipment, according to the Army. But other missions include training and support of disaster relief.
The incident comes less than two weeks after a military jet crashed in a wooded area just outside a suburban Washington neighbourhood. The pilot, who was on a training mission, ditched his jet. He was treated for minor injuries, and no one else was injured in that incident.
The Associated Press