Originally created 06/02/06

4 killed in crash of Army chopper



DOERUN, Ga. - An Army helicopter clipped a television station tower wire and crashed Thursday in south Georgia, killing four soldiers on a routine training mission, officials said.

A fifth soldier aboard the MH-47 Chinook helicopter survived, said Lisa Eichhorn, a spokeswoman for Fort Rucker, Ala., home to the Army helicopter training school where the chopper was headed.

She said the soldier was treated for "minor" injuries at a hospital but would not identify the hospital.

"I'm told he is in really good condition and will be released soon," Ms. Eichhorn said.

The chopper's crew was from the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command confirmed Thursday afternoon.

The crash happened just after 8 a.m. in a northwestern corner of Colquitt County after leaving the Savannah Army post en route to Fort Rucker, sheriff's dispatcher Becky Perry said.

The craft clipped a wire on a 1,000-foot tall TV tower before going down, said Deborah Owens, the station manager of WFXL. The tower now has a conspicuous tilt.

Officials were uncertain whether hitting the wire caused the crash or if the chopper was in trouble before nipping the wire, said Jenny Collins, the station's general manager.

Angela Tyner, a 32-year-old teacher's assistant, witnessed the crash and helped tend to the survivor.

She was feeding her dogs at 8 a.m. when she heard an explosion.

She dialed 911, jumped in her pickup and drove to the nearby cow pasture where the helicopter crashed.

Flames and plumes of smoke were coming out of the engine and she saw the bodies of two of the four victims.

Then she noticed the survivor - with a cut above his eye and few scratches on his hands - walking along a fence. She set him down in her truck until an ambulance arrived to take him to a local hospital.

The chopper crashed with such force that pieces of the aircraft scattered over a wide area, landing in the yards of residents living near the tower.

A team from Fort Rucker will investigate the fatal crash.

Officials would not release the names of the soldiers until after their next of kin were notified.



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