A military helicopter crashed onto a golf course in Leonardtown, Maryland, Monday afternoon, killing one crew member and injuring two more.
The UH-60 Black Hawk based at Fort Belvoir, the Army installation in Northern Virginia, crashed about 1:40 p.m. Monday, U.S. Army Military District of Washington officials said in a statement. Witnesses said they saw the terrifying moment the helicopter plunged to the ground.
One of the crew members was pronounced dead, a second person is in critical condition, and a third person is in serious condition. Their names will be released once their families are notified, the Army said.
“We are deeply saddened by this loss within our community,” Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker said in a statement. “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.”
The crew was conducting a routine training flight.
A photo from TheBayNet.com shows firefighters appearing to peer into the wreckage at the Breton Bay Golf and Country Club, near Society Hill Road.
A woman who lives near the golf course said she saw helicopters flying overhead. Then, one appeared to lose control.
“One of them just started to lower, and it started to spiral down, and it disappeared below the trees. It looked like it had flipped over, upside-down, and then we heard a big explosion sound,” Bianca Melton said.
Kevin Bowen, who works in the pro shop of the golf course, 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 course.
Milt Hein said he and his brothers saw the helicopter plummet to the ground.
“We watched the helicopter come by, sitting very low, and my brother made a comment: ‘Look how low it is.’ Then I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s going sideways. Then, it started to go backward, and I said, ‘It’s going down.’ And it went down,'” he said, shaking his head.
Leonardtown is about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.
The Army is investigating the cause of the crash.
Fort Belvoir is home to the major 12th Aviation Battalion, housed at the base’s Davison Army Airfield. The battalion has more than a dozen H-60 helicopters and helps serve senior leaders of the U.S. Army and Defense Department.
The 12th Aviation Battalion lands at the Pentagon, provides support for military training, and participates in funeral flyovers at Arlington National Cemetery.
Congressional sources say there are plans to budget $1.1 billion this year to buy 61 new UH-60s. According to National Guard Bureau, the Army Guard’s H-60 fleet is the oldest in the Army; more than half of the aircraft are 30 years old.
A fighter jet crashed in a wooded area near Joint Base Andrews in Maryland less than two weeks ago.
The pilot in that crash parachuted out of the F-16 after he had mechanical trouble and steered the aircraft away from a neighborhood. The D.C. Air National Guard F-16C fighter jet crashed April 5 in Clinton, Maryland, about 6 miles southwest of the military base that is home to Air Force One, base officials said. The pilot was on a routine training mission at the time. No one on the ground was hurt.