NEW JERSEY — A New Jersey soldier was one of nine service members killed in a crash involving two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters, the military said Friday, as a team of investigators continued to investigate the incident.

A military press release said the service members, ages 23 to 36, were from Florida, Texas, Missouri, California, North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey.

Sergeant David Solinas Jr., 23, of the town of Oradell, Bergen County, was among those killed in the crash.

“This is a time of great sadness for the 101st Airborne Division. The loss of these soldiers will impact our formations for years to come,” said Major General JP McGee, Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division ( Air Assault) and Fort Campbell “Now is the time to mourn and heal. The entire division and this community support the families and friends of our fallen soldiers.”

Two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed near Fort Campbell Wednesday night in southwestern Kentucky during a medical evacuation drill, killing all nine soldiers aboard the two planes. The crash happened in Trigg County, Kentucky, about 30 miles northwest of the Army post that is home to the 101st Airborne Division.

A special team of military investigators was on the scene Friday, but weather conditions delayed initial work, army officials said.

The roughly eight-member team from Fort Rucker, Alabama arrived at the scene around 7 p.m. Thursday night, but rain and wind slowed their efforts, said Dawn Grimes, public information officer at Fort Rucker. Campbell.

“The investigation is active but has been hampered by weather conditions,” Grimes said Friday.

The two Black Hawks were flying together during a night training exercise, Army officials said. The pilots wore night vision goggles. The accident happened during the flight and not during a medical evacuation drill, said Brig. General John Lubas, deputy commander of the 101st Airborne.

Black Hawk helicopters have something akin to airliner black boxes, which record the aircraft’s flight performance and are used by investigators to analyze crashes. Authorities said they hoped the device would provide information about the cause of Wednesday’s crash.

The crash was the deadliest training incident for the Army since March 2015, when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed into water off the coast of Florida in thick fog, a said Jimmie Cummings, spokesman for the Center for Preparedness for Army Combat at Fort Rucker. Four Louisiana National Guard soldiers and seven Navy special operations forces were killed.

Cummings said the deadliest non-combat Black Hawk crash occurred in 1988 and also involved aircraft from Fort Campbell. The crash, which had the third-highest death toll for an Army aircraft training mission, killed 17 soldiers when two helicopters collided mid-air. The Army’s deadliest aerial training incident was a Chinook crash in Germany in 1982, which killed 46 U.S. and international forces. The second was the C-23 Sherpa fixed-wing plane crash in Georgia in 2001 that killed 21 Army and Air Guardsmen.

Fort Campbell also had a multi-plane crash in 1996, when two Blackhawks cut their propellers. The accident killed five soldiers. The last fatal aviation accident at Fort Campbell occurred in 2018, when an Apache helicopter crashed during training, killing two soldiers on board.

The Black Hawk helicopter is an essential workhorse for the US military, used in security, transportation, medical evacuation, search and rescue, and other missions. Many people know the helicopters from the 2001 movie “Black Hawk Down,” which is about a 1993 battle in Somalia.

The other eight soldiers killed were identified as:

  • Chief Warrant Officer 1 Jeffery Barnes, 33, of Milton, Fla.
  • Comp. Emilie Marie Eve Bolanos, 23, from Austin, Texas
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza, 36, of Jackson, Missouri
  • Sergeant. Isaacjohn Gayo, 27, from Los Angeles, California
  • Chief sergeant. Joshua C. Gore, 25, of Morehead City, North Carolina
  • Chief Warrant Officer 1 Aaron Healy, 32, of Cape Coral, Florida
  • Chief sergeant. Taylor Mitchell, 30, of Mountain Brook, Alabama
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rusten Smith, 32, of Rolla, Missouri

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