DOERUN, Ga. – An Army helicopter clipped a wire on a television transmission tower and crashed Thursday, killing four soldiers on a training mission, officials said.
A fifth soldier aboard the MH-47 Chinook helicopter suffered only minor injuries, said Lisa Eichhorn, a spokeswoman for Fort Rucker, Ala., home to an Army helicopter training school where the soldiers were headed.
The helicopter had left Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah and went down in rural Colquitt County, about 170 miles west, said sheriff's dispatcher Becky Perry.
It clipped a wire as it flew past a television station's 1,000-foot tower, said Deborah Owens, station manager of WFXL.
Angela Tyner, 32, heard the crash, dialed 911 and then jumped in her pickup truck and drove to the nearby cow pasture where the wreckage lay.
Flames and smoke were coming out of the helicopter's engine, she said. She said she saw two bodies, then she noticed the survivor walking along a fence with a cut above his eye and few scratches on his hands.
"It was a miracle he was alive," Tyner said.
She helped the man to her truck until an ambulance arrived.
Officials were uncertain if the collision with the television tower caused the crash or if the helicopter was already in trouble.
The Army did not immediately release the names of the soldiers and would not confirm to which unit the chopper belonged.
Hunter Army Airfield is home to the 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The elite unit, also known as the Night Stalkers, uses MH-47 Chinooks to fly special forces commandos behind enemy lines under cover of night.