2 dead in military chopper crash near Leadville
LEADVILLE, Colorado – A military helicopter crashed Wednesday near the peak of Colorado’s second-highest mountain, killing two people, injuring one and leaving the other person aboard missing, authorities said.
The Black Hawk helicopter from Kentucky’s Fort Campbell was carrying out training exercises when it struck near the top of 14,200-foot Mount Massive near Leadville, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s office and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The injured person was flown to a Denver hospital, while rescue teams searched for the missing person, said Sheriff spokesman Max Duarte. The condition of the injured was not immediately known.
The helicopter was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and was conducting routine training, according to the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. The unit has served in Afghanistan but the Army did not elaborate on the purpose of the maneuvers.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Betty Benson told The Gazette in Colorado Springs that the two who died were soldiers from Fort Campbell. Officials have not released any details on the identities of the four aboard.
The Army statement said that rescue operations were under way but did not elaborate.
Duarte said he did not know how long the helicopter was training in Colorado lofty central mountain region.
U.S. Forest Service said its workers building trails with a youth group heard the 2 p.m. MDT crash but didn’t see it. Spokeswoman Barb Timock said the crash occurred about 400 feet from the peak.
Fort Campbell spokesman Maj. Brandon Bissell did not immediately return a call for comment.
Leadville, a town with a population of 2,600, is about 80 miles southwest of Denver and is surrounded by peaks over 13,000 feet and by rugged wilderness areas.
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In Eagle County, the most commonly reported dead bird has been the Wilson’s warbler, which is yellow. Dead yellow-rumped warblers have also been a common sight.