The remains of three National Guard members killed in a helicopter training accident were recovered and were being transported from the western New York crash site Thursday, escorted by police and fire vehicles.
First responders lined part of the route and saluted as a procession accompanying a medical examiner’s vehicle drove to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in Brighton on Thursday morning.
The National Guard members were on a training flight when they were killed Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field in western New York.
The craft, a UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter, crashed around 6:30 p.m. in Mendon, New York, a rural town south of Rochester, officials said.
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The circumstances were under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would take part.
Photos of the crash scene posted by local news media showed the aircraft wreckage burning on a snow-covered field.
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.
The unit, with about 80 members, is a medical evacuation unit whose mission is to pick up casualties on the battlefield and transport them to military medical facilities, Durr said.
About half the unit spent most of 2019 deployed in Afghanistan.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said flags on state buildings would be lowered to half-staff on Thursday to pay tribute to the troops.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said at a news conference that witnesses who called 911 reported hearing the sounds of an engine sputtering and said the aircraft was flying very low. There were no survivors of the crash, he said.
Baxter called the three guard members who perished “great Americans.”
“Keep them in your minds and your prayers,” he said.
The names of the soldiers have not been released.