Two U.S. Army helicopters collided and crashed Thursday in Alaska while returning from a training flight, killing three soldiers and injuring a fourth.
Two of the soldiers died at the scene of the crash near Healy, Alaska, and a third died on the way to a hospital in Fairbanks, the Army said in a statement. It said a fourth soldier was being treated at a hospital for injuries.
The names of those killed were being withheld until 24 hours after relatives could be notified, the Army said.
Each AH-64 Apache helicopter was carrying two people at the time of the crash, John Pennell, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Alaska, said earlier Thursday. The helicopters were from the 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright, based near Fairbanks.
"This is an incredible loss for these soldiers' families, their fellow soldiers, and for the division," Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commanding general of the 11th Airborne Division, said in the Army statement. "Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends and loved ones, and we are making the full resources of the Army available to support them."
"The Fort Wainwright community is one of the tightest military communities I've seen in my 32 years of service," he continued. "I have no doubt they will pull together during this exceptional time of need and provide comfort to our families of our fallen."
The Army said the cause of the crash was under investigation and more details would be released when they become available.
The crash is the second involving military helicopters in Alaska this year. In February, two soldiers were injured when an Apache helicopter rolled after taking off from Talkeetna. The aircraft was one of four traveling to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage from Fort Wainwright.
In March,when two U.S. Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters crashed during a routine nighttime training exercise about 30 miles northeast of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Healy is about 10 miles north of the Denali National Park and Preserve, some 250 miles north of Anchorage. It is a community of about 1,000 people on the Parks Highway in Alaska's interior region. It's a popular place for people to spend the night while visiting the nearby park, which is home to Denali, the continent's tallest mountain.
Healy is also famous for being the town closest to the former bus that had been abandoned in the backcountry and was popularized by the book "Into the Wild" and the movie of the same name. The bus was removed and taken to Fairbanks in 2020.
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