Army Helicopters Crash; Six Dead

Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HONOLULU (AP) — Two Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed in a remote area during a nighttime exercise, killing six soldiers on one of the aircraft and injuring 11 others.

The aircraft ``somehow came in contact'' with each other, but it was still unclear whether they collided, Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said Tuesday in a briefing at the Pentagon.

The pilots of both aircraft were wearing night vision goggles, he said. Light rain was falling at the time.

The helicopters, carrying a total of 17 people, crashed about 200 yards apart, said Capt. Stephen Johnson, whose fire company came from the nearby Sunset Beach station.

Quigley said he had received conflicting reports and was not certain how the two Black Hawks touched each other. He said it appeared they were not both in the air at the time, but did not elaborate.

He said all six dead were aboard one helicopter.

The two UH60 helicopters went down late Monday while participating in an exercise over Kahuku on the island of Oahu, said Maj. Nancy Makowski, a spokeswoman for the 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks.

``I heard a big thud,'' said Perry Dane, who lives on Kamehameha Highway about a mile from the crash site. ``It sounded like thunder. It shook, too, like a big rattle.''

The accident came just three days after a Navy submarine crashed into a Japanese fishing trawler off the coast of Oahu, sinking the trawler. Nine men and boys aboard the Japanese ship were feared lost and 26 others were rescued.

The helicopters went down in a remote military area accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicles, said Mandy Shiraki, district chief of the city ambulance services.

The Black Hawks were among 30 aircraft ferrying nearly 1,000 soldiers from Wheeler Army Airfield to a base at Kahuku, part of a two-week Army exercise that started Feb. 5.

The names of the victims were not disclosed pending notification of their families.

Four of the injured were listed in stable condition Tuesday at Tripler Army Medical Center. The other seven had been treated and released.

The Black Hawk is the Army's primary helicopter for air assault, air cavalry and aeromedical evacuations units. Each helicopter can transport an 11-man squad.


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