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3 Minnesota National Guard soldiers killed in Black Hawk helicopter crash

The tragedy occurred during a routine maintenance flight

Image source: Bloomberg YouTube video screenshot

Three soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard were killed Thursday when the Black Hawk helicopter they were flying in crashed near St. Cloud during a routine maintenance flight.

What are the details?

The crew lost contact with air traffic control shortly after 2 p.m., and were found roughly 90 minutes later by first responders, WCCO-TV reported. According to The Washington Post, a "mayday" call was sent out from the aircraft minutes after takeoff.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, two witnesses said they saw the helicopter fall from the sky, claiming "it went down hard."

The names of the victims have not yet been released, but they were reportedly members of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) — a former Minnesota National Guardsman himself — confirmed the tragedy Thursday evening, telling the media, "Words will never ease the pain of this tragic loss, and the state of Minnesota is forever in debt of these warriors. The coming days will be dark and difficult."

He added, "The state of Minnesota stands at the ready to assist the families of all fallen heroes."

The crash site was discovered in a field roughly 16 miles north of St. Cloud by a Minnesota State patrol helicopter. The downed UH-60 Black Hawk was found near a tree line on a farm. According to Business Insider, "apparent scorch marks encircled the flattened wreckage in the snow."

Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard said after the crash, "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."

Anything else?

Inspectors from the Army Safety Center at Fort Rucker in Alabama will conduct an investigation into the cause of the crash.

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