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Three Guard Members Killed In Helicopter Crash

Three Guard Members Killed In Helicopter Crash Click to Enlarge Photo: Jennifer Lewerenz (KNSI)

(KNSI) - Three members of the Minnesota National Guard were killed after their helicopter crashed in Stearns County on Thursday.

Their names will be withheld until the family is notified.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz spoke to the media shortly after learning the guard members were killed.

"On behalf of all Minnesotans, we offer our sympathy to the families of these warriors. They paid the ultimate price in service to Minnesota and the United States of America. Words will never ease the pain of this tragic loss, and the state of Minnesota is forever in the debt of these warriors."

Walz says he's mourning over this tragedy and says all of Minnesota is behind these soldiers families.

"As governor and as a citizen of this great state and as a veteran of the Minnesota Army National Guard, my heart breaks for the families, friends, and fellow soldiers. The coming days will be dark and difficult. The state of Minnesota stands ready to assist the families of our fallen heroes."

The UH-60 Black Hawk took off from the National Guard Aviation Center at the St. Cloud airport around 2:00 on Thursday afternoon.

The Guard lost contact with the helicopter shortly after taking off on a maintenance test flight.

The helicopter called mayday about 9 minutes after takeoff, and officials lost contact with the aircraft.

The Black Hawk crashed in a tree line near a gravel pit southwest of Pearl Lake near St. Cloud.

Investigators will be at the crash site for several days.

Throughout the investigation, the Guard will release more details about what caused the helicopter to crash.

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