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7 GIs Killed and 10 Injured When Army Helicopter Crashes in Texas

February 26, 1988|Associated Press

CHICO, Tex. — An Army helicopter that apparently caught fire in flight crashed in a pasture Thursday, killing seven soldiers and injuring 10, authorities said.

Two soldiers reportedly fell 35 feet after leaping from the flaming twin-rotor CH-47D Chinook as it hurtled toward the ground, state Public Safety Department Sgt. Robert Rankin said.

One of the two soldiers said that a fire had broken out at the back of the helicopter, which was based at Ft. Sill, Okla., and that the 17 people on board had tried to move toward the front to get away from the flames, Rankin said.

'Saw Parts Falling'

"We do have some witnesses who said they saw parts falling off back toward Chico (several miles away), and some of the witnesses said it was on fire before impact," he said.

Seven soldiers died and 10 were burned in the crash, which sparked a grass fire, authorities said. Many of the soldiers suffered third-degree burns, some over their entire bodies.

Wendell Berry, a farmer who lives near the crash site, about 50 miles from Ft. Worth, said he saw the helicopter skid about 75 yards before breaking apart in flames.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. A team of investigators from Fort Rucker, Ala., was en route, Col. Herbert Blanks said.

The helicopter was returning to Fort Sill from Fort Hood in central Texas.

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