Black Hawk helicopter in Minnesota crashes after takeoff, killing 3 aboard, governor says

A Black Hawk helicopter crashed in central Minnesota Thursday afternoon shortly after takeoff, killing all three crew members aboard, Gov. Tim Walz confirmed during a news conference.

The Minnesota National Guard lost contact with the UH-60 around 2 p.m., Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens said in an earlier statement.

"Our first priority is the safety and well-being of our Guardsmen, and our thoughts are with our soldiers and their families at this time," Heusdens said.

A Black Hawk helicopter being refueled at Camp Ripley in northern Minnesota.

A Black Hawk helicopter being refueled at Camp Ripley in northern Minnesota. (Star Tribune via AP, File)

Stearns County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Dan Miller told reporters that the Black Hawk sent a mayday signal at 2:15 p.m.

Crews from multiple departments spent several hours searching before finding the wreckage, he said.

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper spotted the helicopter around 4 p.m. near Pearl Lake, according to emergency scanner traffic cited by the St. Cloud Times.

The helicopter had taken off on a maintenance test flight from St. Cloud, about 70 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

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The Guard's base near the St. Cloud Regional Airport has been in operation since 2009, with Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters maintained there.

Walz had canceled a tree-lighting ceremony was in contact with the Guard as the situation unfolded. Walz served in the Army National Guard before eventually becoming a schoolteacher and coach.

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Investigators declined to provide the names of the victims until 24 hours after next of kin are notified. The investigation was ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.