Hunter AAF Helicopter Down in Southwest Georgia - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/01/06

Hunter AAF Helicopter Down in Southwest Georgia

A Chinook, like the one which crashed. A Chinook, like the one which crashed.
The damaged television tower. The damaged television tower.

A helicopter from Hunter Army Airfield crashed in southwest Georgia this morning, killing four of the five soldiers on board. The MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed into a TV tower on its way to Fort Rucker, Alabama, around 8am.

It happened in Doerun in Colquitt County, about 35 miles southeast of Albany.

The crew and helicopter are based at Hunter, but they are actually with the Third Battalion 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment under the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

It came as devastating news to everyone. The helicopter crashed in a field, broke into the three pieces and caught fire.

"I heard the helicopter coming, it sounded low," said witness James Sellers. "I'd seen it when it passed, glanced through the clouds, and all of a sudden I heard it hit the tower and I seen it falling."

Army officials say the Chinook hit a television tower's guy wire. "I saw the pieces go into the ground, and one part was on fire when it started to the ground," said Sellers.

Witnesses called 911 and searched for survivors. "I took off over there to where the crash site to see if there was anyone I could help," said Sellers.

Four of the crew members died in the crash. The Army is not releasing their names or unit at this time. The pilot survived and has been treated and released.

The crew was was headed to Fort Rucker for training.

"Any time the Army loses a a soldier, combat or in peacetime, it's a significant loss to all of us," said Fort Rucker spokesperson Lisa Eichhorn.

The cause of the crash in under investigation.

"It also puts focus on the sacrifice that our service members put out every day for their nation, whether they are in the sands of Iraq or Afghanistan or in Georgia," said Eichhorn.

WTOC is continuing to follow this story and will have more as it becomes available. A representative from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment is expected to be Savannah tomorrow.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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