National Guard confirms 3 soldiers dead after helicopter crashes in Mendon | WHEC.com

National Guard confirms 3 soldiers dead after helicopter crashes in Mendon

WHECTV
Updated: January 21, 2021 11:02 AM
Created: January 20, 2021 07:47 PM

MENDON, N.Y. (WHEC) — Three New York National Guard Soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in Mendon.

The helicopter went down in a field off of West Bloomfield Road, between Cheese Factory Road and Boughton Hill Road.

It happened at around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. The National Guard says the helicopter involved was a Blackhawk medical evacuation helicopter.

— Andrew Hyman (@WHEC_AHyman) January 21, 2021

The medical examiner and the Federal Aviation Association are also on scene.

Spokesman for the Division of Military and Naval Affairs Eric Durr says they were part of the C-Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, which is based in the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Rochester International Airport. The unit of around 80 soldiers operates 6 UH-60 helicopters, including the one that crashed. They were most recently they were deployed to Afghanistan in early 2019 and returned in November of 2019.

Wednesday night's flight, according to military leaders, was a routine training mission when something went wrong.

"They were doing a routine training mission which means you basically flying out and back just to get flying hours in and to exercise your skills," Durr said.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter says it's a reminder that freedom is not free.

"I think we've proven again that freedom is not free with this horrific crash here that occurred in the town of Mendon at about 6:32 p.m." Baxter said. "We received multiple 911 calls for an aircraft in distress. First responders arrived on scene at about the 1300 block of West Bloomfield Road. Shortly thereafter they did find an aircraft crash. They went into lifesaving mode, trying to rescue anybody that could be on that aircraft or area."

He reiterated his point.

"This is a burden. This is a heavy, heavy burden upon all of us. These are our freedom providers, and again just showing again that freedom is not free we lost three great Americans today in the service of our country," Baxter said.

West Bloomfield Road is blocked off while investigators work, which will likely be all night. There are homes near the crash scene. Residents tell News10NBC they heard sputtering, then a crash, and called 911.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement.

"I am devastated by the news tonight of a New York Army National Guard helicopter crash in the Town of Mendon that killed three of New York's bravest during a training mission. 

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.  

I am directing that flags on all State buildings be lowered to half-staff tomorrow in honor of and in tribute to these New Yorkers who dedicated their service to nation and state."

Several lawmakers and community leaders are also offering their condolences following the crash. 

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office asks anyone with leads or information concerning the crash to call them at (585) 753-4175.


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