News

Army helicopter goes down on Mount Peak

By Brenda Sexton and Dennis Box-The Courier-Herald

A Fort Lewis Black Hawk helicopter crashed on Mount Peak in Enumclaw Thursday night killing three soldiers.

The U.S. Army was not releasing the names of the victims in accordance with Defense Department policy. The names are to be released 24 hours after the soldiers' next of kin have been notified, too late for Courier-Herald deadlines.

According to a press release from Fort Lewis, the aircraft, a UH-60 Black Hawk medium utility helicopter, was on a scheduled night training mission when the accident occurred shortly before 9 p.m.

After the helicopter went down, King County Sheriff's Deputy spokesman Rodney Chinnick said the department's search and rescue helicopter took to the air and found a piece of the downed aircraft.

Chinnick said, “ground personnel found the site pretty fast from the smell of fuel.”

Search and rescue volunteers and sheriff's deputies found two of the deceased soldiers near the site soon after the crash.

Chinnick said the chopper went down on the south side of the mountain.

The deputies and search and rescue volunteers set up a command station at the Enumclaw fairgrounds and sent groups up the mountain throughout the night in search of the third soldier.

King County Sheriff's deputies set up around the base of the popular hiking area Friday morning to keep the mountain free of people not affiliated with the search.

A group found the third soldier Friday morning and the announcement the soldier was found dead came about 7:30 a.m.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. A team from the Combat Readiness Center from Fort Rucker, Ala., was en route to the Plateau Friday afternoon to begin an investigation.

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

Dennis Box can be reached at dbox@courierherald.com.

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