ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WXOW) - Three people are dead in the crash of a Minnesota National Guard Black Hawk helicopter Thursday afternoon.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz made the announcement at a news conference in Stearns County Thursday night.
He said the helicopter went down about 16 miles southwest of St. Cloud.
"Words will never ease the pain of this loss. The state of Minnesota is forever in the debt of these warriors," the governor said, expressing his sympathies to the friends and family of the victims.
The names of those killed in the crash won't be released pending notification of relatives.
Stearns County Chief Deputy Dan Miller said that around 2:15 p.m., they received a call that the helicopter went down after sending out a mayday call.
The call was received by the St. Cloud airport control tower, then relayed to law enforcement.
Miller said multiple departments spent several hours searching before finding the helicopter by a tree line in a rural area. The crash site was discovered by a helicopter from the Minnesota State Patrol.
The helicopter took off from the Minnesota National Guard Aviation Support Facility adjacent to the St. Cloud airport.
Investigators from Ft. Rucker in Alabama are coming to the St. Cloud area to begin their look into what caused the crash.
Chief Deputy Miller said the area around the crash scene will remain blocked off for the next several days.
UPDATE 4:50 p.m.: Minnesota National Guard official says Black Hawk Helicopter carrying three crew members has crashed.
News reports said the helicopter was found in some trees southwest of St. Cloud in Marty Township.
The status of the three people on board the helicopter isn't immediately known.
More to come on this developing story.
UPDATE 4:12 p.m.: The Minnesota National Guard has released the following statement about the situation:
"On or about 2:05 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2019, the Minnesota National Guard
lost contact with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter while it was conducting a
maintenance test flight that originated from St. Cloud, Minnesota. The
Minnesota National Guard and local emergency services are currently trying to determine the location and status of the aircraft. The helicopter had three Minnesota National Guard personnel on board. Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our Guardsmen and our thoughts are with our soldiers and their families at this time."
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota National Guard says a Black Hawk helicopter is missing after taking off in central Minnesota.
Guard Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens says the Guard lost contact with the helicopter shortly after it took off from St. Cloud on Thursday afternoon. Heusdens says the Guard is "working to figure it out."
The Minnesota State Patrol was called to bring in a helicopter to help with the search.