National Guard helicopter crashes near US-Mexico border, 3 killed

A National Guard helicopter crashed Friday afternoon near the Texas-Mexico border, killing two National Guard soldiers and a Border Patrol agent onboard. A third National Guard soldier was also onboard and injured in the crash. 

The UH-72 Lakota helicopter was on an aerial reconnaissance mission when it went down in the town of La Grulla, Texas, 29 miles west of McAllen, Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and only approximately two miles from the border. The four were participating on the “federal Southwest border support mission,” according to a statement provided by Joint Task Force North. 

The cause of the crash is under investigation and no reason for the mishap has been given. 

The identities of the people aboard the helicopter were not revealed, beyond their affiliation. The military said it will not release the names of the deceased until their next of kin are notified. 

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The Starr County Sheriff’s Department posted online earlier at 4:43 p.m. MST that “Deputies are currently assisting with a downed helicopter incident on the East side of the county,” before the casualties were confirmed. 

The UH-72 Lakota helicopter can carry nearly a dozen people on board, or two litters of people for medical evacuation. 

Joint Task Force North, based out of Fort Bliss, Texas, is a U.S. military task force focused on counterterrorism and anti drug trafficking operations in North America. 

Friday’s crash is the latest fatal military helicopter mishap this year. Five Marines died on Feb. 6 when their CH-53E helicopter crashed in California. An Army National Guard AH-64 Apache helicopter crashed in Mississippi on Feb. 23, killing two soldiers

This is a developing story. 

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