Four crewmembers killed in Sigonella copter crash
July 17, 2003
A U.S. military helicopter crashed at 5 p.m. Wednesday near Sigonella Naval Air Station, Sicily.
Defense Department spokesman Lt. Dan Hetlage said in Washington that all four crewmembers aboard were killed, The Associated Press reported. The crewmembers’ names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The MH-53E Sea Dragon crashed in a field about 10 miles west-southwest of the base near Palagonia, Sicily.
The helicopter is from Heavy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 4, the “Black Stallions,” which provides support to the fleet in the Mediterranean.
Firefighters and base security were at the scene of the accident.
According to the AP, Italian firefighters said the helicopter was engulfed in flames sparked by the crash, which happened shortly after taking off from Sigonella, and that the fire was put out by Sigonella crews.
Sigonella officials said the Navy was investigating the crash.
The huge Sea Dragon helicopters can carry up to 55 troops or up to 55 tons of cargo. Its missions include sweeping for mines laid at sea.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.