Victims Identified From Military Helicopter Crash

"It looked like it had flipped over, upside-down, and then we heard a big explosion sound"

Authorities have released the names of the man who was killed and two more who were hurt when their military helicopter crashed onto a Maryland golf course earlier this week.

The UH-60 Black Hawk -- which was based at Fort Belvoir, the Army installation in Northern Virginia -- crashed onto a golf course in Leonardtown, Maryland, about 1:40 p.m. Monday, U.S. Army Military District of Washington officials said in a statement. The crew was conducting a routine training flight. 

The Army said Spc. Jeremy Tomlin, 22, from Chapel Hill, Tennessee, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We are deeply saddened by this loss within our community," Maj. Gen. Bradley A. Becker said in the statement. "Our condolences go out to the families and friends affected by this tragedy, and our team is focused on supporting them during this difficult time."

The pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Nicholas, and Charlie Company commander Capt. Terikazu Onoda were injured in the crash. Both are listed in critical condition at the Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

A photo from TheBayNet.com showed firefighters appearing to peer into the wreckage at the Breton Bay Golf and Country Club, near Society Hill Road. 

A woman who lives near the golf course said she saw helicopters flying overhead. Then one appeared to lose control, she said.

"One of them just started to lower, and it started to spiral down, and it disappeared below the trees. It looked like it had flipped over, upside-down, and then we heard a big explosion sound," Bianca Melton said.

041717 helicopter hard landing viewer
Courtesy of Bianca Melton
Neighbor Bianca Melton took this photo of the scene. She said she saw the helicopter flip and then heard a huge crash.

Kevin Bowen, who works in the golf course's pro shop, said he saw the helicopter "flying kind of low" and then "saw it spinning" before it went down between the third and fourth holes of course. 

Milt Hein said he and his brothers saw the helicopter plummet to the ground.

"We watched the helicopter come by, sitting very low, and my brother made a comment: 'Look how low it is.' Then I was like, 'Oh my God, it's going sideways. Then, it started to go backward, and I said, 'It's going down,'" he said, shaking his head.

Dorothy Harper, who lives across the street from the golf course, said she saw the helicopter just before it crashed.

"I was outside in my front yard when I saw the helicopter come over right across the street from my house. I saw pieces actually falling off the helicopter," she said.

Harper said she didn't see smoke or flames, "just pieces falling out of the sky."

Shortly after, emergency vehicles started rolling in, she said.

Many people who live in the area were concerned for their family members and friends, Joy Shrum, a reporter for TheBayNet.com, said.

"Being a military community, something like this hits home very hard. There's a lot of people very concerned for their loved ones," she said.

Leonardtown is about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C.

Fort Belvoir is home to the 12th Aviation Battalion, housed at the base's Davison Army Airfield. The battalion has more than a dozen H-60 helicopters and helps serve senior leaders of the U.S. Army and Defense Department.  

The 12th Aviation Battalion lands at the Pentagon, provides support for military training, and participates in funeral flyovers at Arlington National Cemetery.

A military helicopter made a hard landing on a golf course in Leonardtown, Maryland Monday afternoon. Three people were on board and one was airlifted to the hospital. Darcy Spencer and Scott MacFarlane report.

Congressional sources said there are plans to budget $1.1 billion this year to buy 61 new UH-60s. According to National Guard Bureau, the Army Guard's H-60 fleet is the oldest in the Army, and more than half of the aircraft are 30 years old.

The crash comes less than two weeks after another military aircraft accident in Maryland. A D.C. Air National Guard F-16C fighter jet crashed April 5 in a wooded area near Joint Base Andrews in Clinton, about 6 miles southwest of the military base that is home to Air Force One, base officials said.  

The pilot in that crash parachuted out of the F-16 after he had mechanical trouble and steered the aircraft away from a neighborhood. The pilot was on a routine training mission at the time. No one on the ground was hurt.

Hein, one of the witnesses, said seeing a crash in person was nothing like seeing one on television or in a movie. 

"You see it on TV all the time, and you think it's pretty cool. It's not. When you see it live, it's not," he said. 

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