CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) — A heavy-lift military helicopter landed harder and faster than normal during a nighttime training exercise in North Carolina, killing one U.S. Marine and injuring 11 others, the military said.
The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter made the hard landing at Camp Lejeune around 9 p.m. Wednesday, according to a news release from the Marines.
The Marines described the accident as a hard landing, which officials said generally describes “when an aircraft impacts the ground with a greater vertical speed and force than a normal landing, typically after a rapid or steep descent.”
Public affairs officers declined to elaborate on what may have caused the hard landing or what the training entailed.
The weather appeared to be calm at the time. Skies were clear, winds were less than 5 mph and the temperature was 79 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
A news release said one Marine was taken from the scene by medical aircraft and pronounced dead at the hospital. Six Marines were treated at a hospital on base and later released, and three are scheduled to be released from a nearby civilian hospital.
Two remain hospitalized in stable condition, according to military officials’ statement. At least one of the hospitalized Marines was previously described as having serious injuries.
Officials say the name of the Marine who died won’t be released for 24 hours, and the names of the injured weren’t immediately disclosed.
The landing is under investigation, and officers were reaching out to the families of the service members involved.
“We want to ensure the Marines and family members of the units involved in the mishap have easy access to any help they may need after this tragic event,” spokeswoman Capt. Kendra Motz said in a news release.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said in a release that the “tragic accident reminds us all of the dangers and sacrifices our military men and women and their families face as they protect our freedom and way of life.”
The helicopter was assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron-464, Marine Aircraft group-29, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. The helicopter is the Marine Corps’ primary heavy lift helicopter. It has a top speed of 172 mph.
The Marines website says the aircraft can carry 16 tons of cargo on a 100-mile roundtrip and describes it as having “the armament, speed and agility to qualify as much more than a heavy lifter.”
Hours earlier, a Black Hawk helicopter carrying soldiers on a training mission from a Colorado Army base made a hard landing in a forest near Denver. The Army didn’t report any deaths, nor did it immediately give the extent of injuries.
In March, a Black Hawk crashed in a thick fog during training off Florida, killing 11 service members. The military said two National Guard pilots became disoriented while switching from visual-based to instrument-based flight procedures.
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