MENDON, N.Y. (WROC) — U.S. Army Aviation investigators are scheduled to arrive locally Friday to investigate a helicopter crash that killed three National Guard servicemembers Wednesday.
Chief Deputy Michael Fowler of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference Thursday to discuss the triple fatal military helicopter crash in Mendon.
Fowler, who retired from the National Guard last year, said the U.S. Army has jurisdiction of the investigation, and details that he could share publicly were limited at this time. As of Thursday, none of the three soldiers killed in the crash have been identified.
“We are not the investigating agency,” Fowler said. “The U.S. Army has jurisdiction in this case, so it’s our duty to protect the scene so the integrity of it is maintained for when the Army investigators arrive tomorrow morning.”
According to the New York Army National Guard, the UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter was on a routine training mission Wednesday evening when it crashed in a farmer’s field along West Bloomfield Road near Cheese Factory Road. The road has been closed since the crash and will remain closed through Thursday, to be re-valuated Friday morning.
“Earlier today, those fallen service members were transported with an honor escort from the scene to the medical examiner’s office,” Fowler said. “Through the process of that escort, it became very clear that the community took notice. They came out of their homes, stood outside with flags, saluting. It was a touching and honorable time for this unfortunate event.”
Fowler said the acts of kindness by residents — offering a cup of coffee, or a plate of cookies — were deeply appreciated.
“The community response from first responders and residents has been unbelievable and were deeply grateful for that,” Fowler said.
Investigators with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office say the crash happened around 6:32 p.m. Witnesses reported hearing sputtering sounds and seeing the helicopter flying low to the ground.
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said Wednesday that emergency crews arriving on scene saw the helicopter on fire in the field, and “went into life-saving mode.”
“Once we recognized the life saving measures wouldn’t be successful, we secured the scene and assisted with the recovery of those heroes,” Fowler said. “That went on for several hours and had a lot of support from other agencies to make sure that process was done in the most professional and dignified manner possible.”
“This is a heavy heavy burden on all of us,” Baxter said. “We’re waiting for the National Guard for confirmation of who was on board and identification of our great soldiers.”
The New York Army National Guard released a statement Wednesday evening saying:
“A New York Army National Guard UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter based at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Rochester International Airport crashed earlier tonight in the Town of Mendon, New York while on a routine training mission.
The aircraft was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion. There were three Soldiers on board killed in the crash.
The incident is under investigation.“
Watch the full press briefing: