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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tragic Helicopter Crash Claims Lives of National Guard Members and Border Patrol Agent

In a devastating incident in southern Texas, a helicopter carrying National Guard members and a Border Patrol agent crashed, resulting in the deaths of three individuals and leaving one critically injured. The tragic event occurred during an operation near Rio Grande City, where the aircraft went down at approximately 2:50 p.m. on Friday.

The helicopter, identified as a UH-72 Lakota, was engaged in a mission supported by Joint Task Force North, an operation under the Defense Department that assists Customs and Border Protection with National Guard units. According to reports, the operation involved monitoring individuals crossing the border from Mexico into the United States.

Among the victims were two soldiers and a Border Patrol agent, whose identities have not been disclosed pending notification of their families. The National Guard confirmed that its members on board were part of the Army National Guard. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, with authorities working diligently to determine the circumstances leading to the tragic incident.

The UH-72 Lakota, described as the U.S. Army’s light utility helicopter, has been in service since 2006, manufactured by Airbus. The aircraft was deployed by the National Guard to support Customs and Border Protection’s efforts to secure the southern border, as stated by Maj. Ryan Wierzbicki, a spokesperson for Joint Task Force North. This task force provides command and control for National Guard units deployed to the border on federal orders.

According to Judge Eloy Vera, the top local official in Starr County, where the crash occurred, the helicopter was patrolling the border and monitoring individuals attempting to cross into the United States illegally when it went down in an open field. Judge Vera was informed of the crash by the county sheriff’s office around 7:30 p.m. and received further details later.

Of the individuals aboard the helicopter, three were men and one was a woman, with the Border Patrol agent stationed in Rio Grande City. The crash has sent shockwaves through the community and beyond, highlighting the risks and challenges faced by those tasked with safeguarding the nation’s borders.

As investigations into the crash continue, authorities are focused on uncovering the cause of the incident and ensuring that necessary measures are taken to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The loss of lives serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those serving in the National Guard and Border Patrol, and their contributions to protecting the country’s borders.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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