ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — All three Minnesota National Guard soldiers were killed when the Black Hawk helicopter they were riding in crashed Thursday in central Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz confirmed. The identities of the soldiers were not released, pending notification of family.
The crash was being investigated and preliminary information on the crash was not released.
Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard, said: “Our Minnesota National Guard family is devastated by the deaths of these soldiers. Our priority right now is ensuring that our families are taken care of.”
The National Guard says the helicopter was a UH-60 Black Hawk from the guard’s Army Aviation Safety Facility in St. Cloud.
Minnesota National Guard Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens told the St. Cloud Times the UH-60 crashed near Pearl Lake after it lost contact with the base Thursday afternoon.
The Guard lost contact with the helicopter shortly after taking off on a maintenance test flight from St. Cloud on Thursday afternoon, Heusdens said. The helicopter called mayday about 9 minutes after takeoff.
The Guard’s base near St. Cloud Regional Airport has been in operation since 2009, with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters maintained there.
Gov. Tim Walz canceled a tree-lighting ceremony, and a spokesman said he was in contact with the Guard and monitoring developments from the Capitol. Walz served for 24 years the Army National Guard, while he was a schoolteacher and coach, but retired in 2005 to run for Congress."