JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) — Two U.S. Army helicopters collided in flight Thursday in Alaska while returning from a training mission, killing three soldiers and injuring a fourth, the Army said.
Two of the soldiers died at the crash site near Healy, Alaska, and a third died on the way to a hospital in Fairbanks. A fourth soldier was being treated at a hospital for injuries, the Army said in a statement Thursday. Additional information was not immediately available Friday.
The names of those killed were being withheld until relatives could be notified, the Army said.
The Army said the cause of the crash was under investigation and that more details would be released when they become available. A team from Fort Novosel, Alabama, will conduct the investigation, the Army said.
Each AH-64 Apache helicopter was carrying two people at the time of the crash, John Pennell, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Alaska, said earlier Thursday.
The helicopters were from the 1st Attack Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment at Fort Wainwright, based near Fairbanks.
“This is an incredible loss for these soldiers’ families, their fellow soldiers, and for the division,” Maj. Gen. Brian Eifler, commanding general of the 11th Airborne Division, said in the Army statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to their families, friends and loved ones, and we are making the full resources of the Army available to support them.”
The crash is the second accident involving military helicopters in Alaska this year.
In February, two soldiers were injured when an Apache helicopter rolled after taking off from Talkeetna. The aircraft was one of four traveling to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage from Fort Wainwright.
In March, nine soldiers were killed when two U.S. Army Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopters crashed during a routine nighttime training exercise about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Healy is located about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Denali National Park and Preserve, or about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Anchorage.
Healy is a community of about 1,000 people located on the Parks Highway in Alaska’s interior region. It is a popular place for people to spend the night while visiting the nearby park, which is home to Denali, the continent’s tallest mountain.
Healy is also famous for being the town closest to the former bus that had been abandoned in the backcountry and was popularized by the book “Into the Wild” and the movie of the same name. The bus was removed and taken to Fairbanks in 2020.