Deadly Army helicopter crash ‘not an accident,’ criminal probe underway

Photo US Army

Last week’s crash involving two Army helicopters that killed a soldier was not an accident and is under criminal investigation.

That’s according to the Army Times, which reported that the crash involving two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Wright Army Airfield, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, is described as an “incident,” with a source stressing it was “not an accident.”

Capt. James Bellew, 26, who was on MedEvac duty on March 30, was killed when the helicopters made contact.

Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, a spokesperson for the 3rd Infantry Division, told the Times the service’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the crash, with support from Army Combat Readiness Center safety experts.

“Capt. Bellew was the only crewmember involved in the incident and he was the only one injured or killed in the incident,” Elder said. “The initial indication is that all other crewmembers were asleep at the time of the incident.”

“At this point, we cannot address the manner of the damage to the two aircraft, timeline of events, or the response from the tower and emergency services, as those details are still considered part of the active investigation,” he added. “No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”

The Times further reported that comments in closed social media groups and a since-deleted blog post “described the event as an intentional destruction of both aircraft,” adding that they could not independently verify the details of the crash sequence or Bellew’s intentions.

“At this point, we cannot address the manner of the damage to the two aircraft, timeline of events, or the response from the tower and emergency services, as those details are still considered part of the active investigation,” Elder said. “No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation.”

Bellew’s brigade commander, Col. Eric Vanek, described him as a top officer in his unit.

“The loss of James is an immeasurable tragedy to his family, friends, crew and fellow soldiers,” Vanek said in a release, adding that Bellew’s MedEvac role was “one of the noblest professions imaginable…a role where he was constantly helping, and saving the lives of others.”

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