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3 dead after crash of National Guard helicopter outside Rochester

New York National Guard / Flickr
A UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter assisting in fighting a forest fire in 2015.

Officials with the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs confirms that three people are dead after a New York Army National Guard UH-60 medical evacuation helicopter crashed early Wednesday evening in the Town of Mendon.

The Blackhawk helicopter was assigned to C Company of the 1st Battalion, 171st General Support Aviation Battalion, based at the Army Aviation Support Facility at Greater Rochester International Airport. The identities of the three National Guard soldiers have not been released yet.

The incident is under investigation. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department says the chopper went down in a field on West Bloomfield Road in Mendon just after 6:30 p.m.

Sheriff Todd Baxter says that his office got multiple 911 calls about an aircraft in distress.

“There were calls of a sputtering sound of an engine and that the aircraft was flying very low, more low than normal," he said, "and shortly thereafter, reports of a crash, sounding of a crash and, of course, other reports that came in for the crash."

Baxter said that when first responded got to the scene they found the chopper on fire and debris spread over a wide area.

Baxter said it's an emotional time for a lot of people having to deal with the aftermath of this crash.

“This is a burden, this is a heavy, heavy burden upon all of us," Baxter said. "These are our freedom providers and just showing again that freedom is not free. We lost three great Americans today in the service of our country."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed that flags on all state buildings be lowered to half-staff on Thursday.

Cuomo released this statement Wednesday night:

"I am devastated by the news tonight of a New York Army National Guard helicopter crash in the Town of Mendon that killed three of New York's bravest during a training mission.

"National Guard members are our citizen soldiers who voluntarily serve and protect both here and abroad, and I extend prayers and condolences from all New Yorkers to the family, loved ones and fellow soldiers of these honorable heroes who we will never forget. 

"I am directing that flags on all State buildings be lowered to half-staff tomorrow in honor of and in tribute to these New Yorkers who dedicated their service to nation and state."

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.