Damaged helicopter had stopped at Griffiss to refuel

Published Jun 16, 2018 at 4:00pm

The Blackhawk helicopter that struck the air traffic control tower at the Griffiss International Airport Thursday night had stopped for refueling on its way back to Fort Drum, according to U.S. Army officials.

Four crew members were on board the chopper and one of them, a soldier, was hospitalized for minor injuries, officials said. The chopper was en route to Fort Drum from West Point, the United States Military Academy.

Fort Drum Public Affairs Director Julie Halpin said the Blackhawk helicopter had just landed at the Griffiss International Airport to refuel at about 11 p.m. It was no longer in the air. The Blackhawk is from A. Co. 3-10 General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

While taxing towards the refueling point, with a guide on the ground, the main rotor blades struck the base of the tower, authorities said. The pilot-in-command then executed an emergency shut down.

The four-person crew exited the craft by their own power, officials said. Rome Fire Department and AmCare Ambulance responded to the scene to assist. The injured soldier was treated at Rome Memorial Hospital for a minor muscular injury, authorities stated. He has since been released.

The Army did not release the identities of the crew members.

“We appreciate the incredibly quick and professional reaction by emergency responders and the personnel at Rome-Griffiss Airport,” Halpin said in a release.

“We are thankful this accident didn’t cause any significant injuries.”

The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade brought the crew back to Fort Drum via ground transport, with officials looking over the Blackhawk to plan for repairs, Halpin stated.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene as part of the initial investigation, which has since been turned over to the U.S. Army.