Two dead after Black Hawk helicopter crashes onto Alabama highway: US official

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(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) — Two fatalities were reported after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed onto an Alabama highway Wednesday afternoon, a U.S. official confirmed to ABC News.

The crash occurred on Highway 53 near the intersection of Burrell Road in Madison County, near the Alabama-Tennessee border, according to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

The helicopter belonged to the Tennessee National Guard, according to a U.S. official.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two Tennessee National Guardsmen, and our prayers are with their families during this heartbreaking tragedy,” Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, said in a press release. “We ask Tennesseans to join us in supporting their families during this time of unthinkable grief.”

The Madison County Sheriff’s office received a distress call on its 911 system around 3 p.m., spokesperson Brent Patterson told ABC News.

First responders who arrived first at the scene found the helicopter “engulfed in flames,” Patterson said. The aircraft was a “total loss,” and given the extent of visible damage, they determined there were no survivors, he said.

The two fatalities were aboard the helicopter, a U.S. official said.

According to the Tennessee National Guard, no other service members or civilians were injured. Federal and state authorities are investigating the crash and the Tennessee National Guard will work with officials investigating the crash site.

The National Guard said Wednesday night it cannot confirm the unit the helicopter was assigned to or provide information on casualties.

“It is premature to discuss possible causes of the crash,” National Guard spokesperson Robert Carver said in a statement. “Like all military aircraft mishaps, the incident will be investigated. The National Guard will support law enforcement and other first responders handling the crash site.”

Troopers with the agency and deputies from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office were securing the scene.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office advised of road closures in the area following the crash.

“We anticipate evening traffic to experience heavy delays in this area throughout the evening,” the sheriff’s office said.

Tammy Adams told Huntsville, Alabama, ABC affiliate WAAY-TV that she heard what sounded like a car without a muffler before seeing the helicopter fly overhead.

“Then bam, we heard a hit,” she told the station. “We saw it hit the ground and it exploded.”

She said she said a prayer for those onboard.

“We knew there could not be anybody surviving that,” she told WAAY.

Chermonica Johnson also told WAAY she said a prayer after witnessing the devastating crash.

“There’s nothing there, at all,” she told the station. “You can’t even tell it was an aircraft.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said on Twitter that he and his wife, Maria, were “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two Tennessee National Guard members. Please join us in lifting their families up in prayer & support during this time of unspeakable grief.”

Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama responded, thanking Lee and saying, “Alabamians will continue to uplift in prayer the families affected by this heartbreaking tragedy.”

“The Guardsmen who lost their lives today will be remembered as heroes,” Ivey said. “The people of Alabama stand with our neighbors in Tennessee.”

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