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

Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

(HUNTSVILLE, Ala.) — Two Tennessee National Guard pilots were killed after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed onto an Alabama highway Wednesday afternoon, officials said.


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.

“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 pilots were identified by the Tennessee National Guard on Thursday as Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham of Joelton, who had 15 years of service, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro, who had 13 years of service.

The soldiers were assigned to A Company, 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion, from Nashville’s Berry Field Air National Guard Base.

They were approaching the Huntsville Executive Airport “when the aircraft rapidly descended and impacted the ground,” the Tennessee National Guard said.

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

Troopers with the agency and deputies from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office secured 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 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.”

ABC News’ Ahmad Hemingway contributed to this story.

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