Two Tennessee National Guard troops were murdered when the helicopter they were travelling in fell from the skies and erupted in flames near Huntsville, Alabama, on Wednesday.
The Tennessee National Guard announced in a press release Wednesday night that the guard personnel were flying in a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter when it crashed near Highway 53 and Burwell Road about 3 p.m.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two Tennessee National Guardsmen, and our prayers are with their families during this heartbreaking tragedy,” Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s adjutant general, said in a statement.
“We ask Tennesseans to join us in supporting their families during this time of unthinkable grief,” Ross said.
The announcement made no mention of the unit involved or the identities of those murdered.
“It is premature to discuss possible causes of the crash. Like all military aircraft mishaps, the incident will be investigated. The National Guard will support law enforcement and other first responders handling the crash site,” National Guard representative Robert Carver said in a statement, according to ABC News.
Before a big column of dense back smoke erupted, dramatic images of the helicopter’s descent appeared.
Two people are believed dead after a Tennessee National Guard helicopter crashed outside Huntsville, Alabama, at 3:01 p.m. Wednesday. A Nest camera appears to have captured the moment the aircraft went down. https://t.co/87ywtoQVHZ pic.twitter.com/sHryuTh4CN
— Tennessean (@Tennessean) February 16, 2023
As first responders arrived, the chopper was engulfed in flames, according to Don Webster, community relations director of Huntsville Emergency Medical Services, as reported by The Nashville Tennessean.
“It was destroyed beyond recognition,” Webster said.
Tammy Adams, a witness, reported seeing the incident develop.
“I just hollered, ‘My Lord! My God!’ Because nobody could have survived that,” Adams said, according to WAAY-TV in Huntsville.
“We heard a very loud — like a car without a muffler, but we knew it was in the sky. Looking up in the air, we saw the helicopter, and bam! We hear it hit. We saw it hit the ground, and it exploded,” Adams said.
Chermonika Johnson was inside her adjacent home when the explosion occurred.
“I started panicking, because I thought it was the school bus,” Johnson said.
She went outside and could not believe what she saw.
“You couldn’t even tell it was an aircraft. You couldn’t even see anything left of it but debris. There was nothing left at all,” she said.
A short video of the helicopter crash in Harvest (north of Huntsville) from Savanna Terry pic.twitter.com/v1T5vk4gq5
— James Spann (@spann) February 15, 2023
“Please join us in lifting their families up in prayer & support during this time of unspeakable grief,” Gov. Bill Lee tweeted.
Maria & I are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two Tennessee National Guard members. Please join us in lifting their families up in prayer & support during this time of unspeakable grief.
— Gov. Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) February 16, 2023
According to CBS News, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will examine the event.