National Guard: Human Error Caused Fatal NY Helicopter Crash

Three New York National Guard members killed inhelicopter crash.
Combo photo of the three National Guard members, Steven Skoda, Christian Koch and Daniel Prial, killed when a helicopter crashed in Mendon, NY, Jan. 20, 2021. (New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs via AP)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Human error caused the crash of an Army National Guard helicopter during a January training exercise in upstate New York that killed three soldiers, National Guard officials have determined.

Actions taken by the crew during the Jan. 20 training flight “put the aircraft in a position where it became unrecoverable," Col. Richard Goldenberg, public affairs officer for the New York National Guard, said at a news briefing in Rochester on Thursday.

The UH-60 Black Hawk medical evacuation helicopter crashed in a farmer’s field near Mendon, south of Rochester, at about 6:30 p.m., officials said.

National Guard officials said the crew had been conducting night vision goggle proficiency training.

Killed in the crash were all three soldiers on board: chief warrant officers Steven Skoda and Daniel Prial, both of Rochester, and Christian Koch of Honeoye Falls.

The families of the three, all experienced pilots with past deployments to Afghanistan, have been notified of the findings of the Guard's investigation into the crash, Goldenberg said.

“Military aviation is inherently risky due to the complex flying environments that our pilots and crews have to prepare for,” Goldenberg said. “It can also be an unforgiving environment, with life and death decisions and actions, no matter the circumstance, whether mechanical, weather or crew related.”

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