Report on Aviano helo crash complete, not ready for release
A U.S. Army Europe investigation into the fatal crash of a Black Hawk helicopter near Aviano Air Base in November is complete, but its results won’t be released until family members are briefed.
“We believe it’s really important that family members get the information first and not from the media,” Lt. Col. Richard Spiegel said Wednesday. “We have teams available that will meet with any families who wish to do so.”
Four airmen and two soldiers were killed when the helicopter, assigned to Company G, 52nd Aviation Regiment, crashed on the banks of the Piave River about 30 miles southwest of Aviano on Nov. 8. Five other servicemembers were injured.
Lt. Gen. Kenneth Hunzeker, V Corps commander, appointed “a qualified aviation officer” to lead the investigation, Spiegel said. That officer had access to experts and witnesses in compiling his report. He was charged with determining the cause of the accident and recommending any needed changes in procedures.
“The report has been reviewed and approved already by Lt. Gen. Hunzeker,” Spiegel said, adding that he had shared the information with Air Force Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, commander of the 3rd Air Force. Spiegel said results of the report would also be forwarded to Italian authorities if that had not already taken place.
Investigations by other agencies, such as the Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center and Criminal Investigation Command, were conducted separately, Spiegel said, referring queries regarding those reports to their respective headquarters.
Maj. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of the Southern European Task Force (Airborne), met with local Italian leaders last week. Italian rescue and crisis personnel responded quickly to the crash site, though the terrain made it difficult to reach.
“I am very impressed with the immediate response, care and level of professionalism from all those who were a part of the rescue efforts,” Helmick was quoted as saying in a news release issued by the command.
He presented plaques of appreciation to Fabrizio Fantinel, mayor of Santa Lucia; Michele Terrarin, director of the hospital in Treviso; and Capt. Alessandro Farris, the carabinieri commander in Conegliano.
Fantinel said the town planned to erect a memorial on the site.