- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2004

BRUCEVILLE-EDDY (AP) — An Army helicopter carrying seven soldiers crashed and burned in the fog yesterday after hitting support wires on a TV transmission tower, officials said.

Warning lights on the TV tower had been knocked out in a storm last week. Everyone aboard the helicopter was killed.

The UH-60 Black Hawk, bound for the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, went down in a field about 30 miles northeast of Fort Hood. The fog was so thick when emergency crews arrived that they could not see more than halfway up the tower, authorities said.

The helicopter was headed to check out equipment being readied for use in Iraq, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, spokesman for the Fort Hood-based 4th Infantry Division. The names of the victims, all from Fort Hood, were not released.

Rock Eicke, who lives a quarter-mile from the crash site, said he was getting ready for work at about 7 a.m. when he was startled by a loud sound. He looked out his window and saw the helicopter hit the ground.

“All of the sudden I just saw a big ball of fire erupt from the ground and then boom, an explosion,” Mr. Eicke said. “It was burning to the point that we couldn’t have done anything.”

The main part of the fuselage went down in a field about 200 to 300 yards from the tower, said McLennan County Constable Ken Brown.

The helicopter hit at least five of 21 wires stabilizing the 1,800-foot tower, said Jerry Pursley, general manager of Waco-Temple-Killeen station KXXV, which owns the tower. The tower’s lights stopped working early last week after storms hit the area, Mr. Pursley said. He said the station had notified the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said the agency sent a notice Wednesday to a computer database checked by pilots before they fly for information on potential hazards. Hundreds of such notices are issued every week nationwide, and they typically stay posted for 15 days, he said.

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