Officials confirmed Thursday morning that nine U.S. Army service members were killed when two Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Kentucky on Wednesday night.
The helicopters were from Fort Campbell, an army installation on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and they crashed in Trigg County, Kentucky.
Fort Campbell said the crash, at about 10 p.m., involved two 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) helicopters on a routine training mission. They were HH60 Black Hawks, the fort said.
Brigadier general John Lubas, Deputy Commander of the 101st Airborne Division, said Thursday morning that there were five people in one helicopter and four in the other, a "fairly typical" arrangement, and said that the aircraft were practicing a "multi-ship formation" using night vision goggles. Lubas said the helicopters were practicing medical evacuation drills, but the crash appears to have occurred while they were flying, not while doing those exercises.
Lubas said that identities of the service members would not be shared until next of kin were notified. He said that the U.S. Army has deployed an aircraft safety team to investigate the crash.
"The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families," the fort said, adding that the incident is under investigation. Lubas said that the Army is doing "everything we can" to notify families as quickly as possible. Some are outside the United States, he said, and he was not able to say when families would be notified.
Kentucky governor Andy Beshear said Thursday morning that he and Tennessee governor Bill Lee were "committed" to supporting the families who lost loved ones.
"There are no state lines when it comes to taking care of these families and helping them with their grief," he said.
Beshear tweeted Thursday morning that he was traveling to Fort Campbell "to support our troops and their families after last night's tragic incident."
Kentucky State Police, the state Division of Emergency Management and local officials all responded to the scene on Wednesday night. Lubas said that other Army aircraft had been in the air, and that the fort was notified "through multiple means" to the incident.
The helicopters crashed in an open field across from a residential area, Lubas said, so there were no casualties or injuries on the ground. Fort Campbell is about 60 miles northwest of Nashville.
Last month, two Tennessee National Guardwhen their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Alabama during a routine training mission.
for more features.