7 Presumed Dead in Black Hawk Helicopter Crash

Times Staff Writer

HOUSTON — Seven Ft. Hood soldiers are believed dead after the Black Hawk helicopter carrying them across central Texas crashed this morning after striking a wire used to stabilize a television broadcast tower, officials said.

Military officials at Ft. Hood said there were seven soldiers on board the helicopter. Raymond N. Britton, the justice of the peace in Moody, Texas, said in an interview that there were no survivors.

“The site is unbelievable,” Britton said. “It just disintegrated. It looks like there is nothing left.”

The UH-60 Black Hawk left Ft. Hood, which is near Killeen, Texas, southwest of Waco, early this morning, said Ft. Hood spokesman Cecil Green. The helicopter was en route to Texarkana, a city about 300 miles to the northeast that straddles the Texas-Arkansas line.

The helicopter crashed shortly before 7 a.m. in an oat field that houses three television broadcast towers. The field is near Moody, Texas, just west of Interstate 35.

The helicopter struck a wire connected to a 1,700-foot tower that belongs to the Waco-Temple-Killeen television station KXXV, said station general manager Jerry Pursley.

“Our thoughts are with the crew members and their families,” Pursley said. “We’re just praying for them.”

Witnesses told local law enforcement authorities that the helicopter appeared to be flying very low prior to the crash, Britton said. The helicopter was attempting to stay under a dense layer of fog, he said.