Guard Evacuates Downed Helicopter’s Passengers
American Forces Press Service
CHARLESTON, W.Va., Feb. 19, 2010 Thirteen of the 17 passengers stranded in a remote region of West Virginia’s Pocahontas County have been evacuated from a Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter that was forced to land in the area yesterday, National Guard officials said.
Rescued passengers are being evaluated by emergency services agencies and transported to a local hospital for further evaluation and treatment.
West Virginia Army National Guard medics still are at the landing site and are working with emergency crews to evacuate the remaining passengers, said Mike Cadle, the state public affairs officer.
The helicopter reportedly was carrying passengers from Fort Pickett, Va., to Camp Dawson in Preston County, W.Va. Three members of the West Virginia National Guard were on board the aircraft.
The aircraft was participating in Operation Southbound Trooper X, an annual military exercise focusing on the integration of U.S. and NATO tactics and procedures as well as interservice coordination and capabilities.
A West Virginia Army National Guard HH-60 Black Hawk helicopter located the downed aircraft at about 7:15 p.m. yesterday. Two medics were lowered to the landing site to assess the situation and assist the injured.
Rescue personnel reported several injuries to the passengers, but the extent of those injuries still is being determined.
A West Virginia Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from the 130th Airlift Wing based here has been circling the site to maintain communications with the downed aircraft.
On-site rescue efforts are being coordinated by the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the West Virginia National Guard.
The National Guard is working with local officials to deliver food, water, blankets and other essential items to the rugged, snow-covered site, which lies in northwestern Pocahontas County.
(From a West Virginia National Guard news release.)