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Army team will lead probe into helicopter crash

ST. CLOUD (AP) — Army investigators will lead the probe into the crash of a Minnesota National Guard helicopter that killed all three soldiers aboard.

A five-member team from Fort Rucker, Alabama, was expected to arrive Friday to begin the work of determining why the Black Hawk crashed in a farm field Thursday during a routine maintenance test flight. It went down about 15 miles southwest of St. Cloud, in central Minnesota.

Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota National Guard, told the St. Cloud Times on Friday that the names of the crew members would be released today following a waiting period after notifying their families.

Heusdens said each family would be assigned a casualty assistance officer to help connect them to support programs “as long as the family needs them.”

Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags flown at half-staff at state and federal buildings throughout Minnesota from 2:05 p.m. Friday until 2:05 p.m. Monday. That was the time on Thursday when the Guard lost contact with the crew shortly after the helicopter took off from the St. Cloud airport.

“These fine soldiers served with distinction and put others before themselves,” Walz, who served in the Guard for 24 years, said in his proclamation. “The people of Minnesota honor these soldiers for their dedicated service, pray for their loved ones, and recognize their ultimate sacrifice to our state and country.”

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