Air Force Reserve Helicopter Crash Kills at Least 12

From Associated Press

An Air Force Reserve helicopter crashed and burned Sunday during a night training mission, killing 12 people aboard and leaving three missing, officials said.

The CH-3 “Jolly Green Giant” helicopter was flying with another copter from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to the Air Force’s Gila Bend Gunnery Range when it went down about 7:45 p.m., base spokesman Capt. Mark Besich said.

The crashed occurred in an uninhabited area 20 miles north of Tucson.

Eyewitness Mike Skreka told a Tucson television station that he saw “a yellow ball, like flames, coming out of the back. About four seconds later it hit the ground.”

Emergency crews from Davis-Monthan and Tucson International Airport were sent to the scene.


Missing Presumed Dead

Twelve people were pronounced dead at the crash site and three others were unaccounted for and presumed dead, Pima County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Taylor said.

An unidentified sheriff’s office dispatcher said another witness told deputies that he “heard a loud pop and then saw it go down.”

The dispatcher said the second helicopter continued flying on to Ryan Field, a small airport about 25 miles west of Tucson.

Besich said the CH-3 helicopter usually carries a crew of four and has a capacity of 22 passengers. He said he knew nothing about the people aboard the helicopter that crashed, or how many may have been injured.

Both helicopters are assigned to the 71st Special Operations Squadron at Davis-Monthan, he said.

He said Air Force officials launched another helicopter to fly to the crash site, but he had few details about what that crew had learned.