Four people were killed after a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office helicopter crashed in New Mexico. Authorities confirmed on Sunday that the helicopter was headed back to Albuquerque after assisting firefighters in another New Mexico city.
Sheriff’s officials said three people from the sheriff’s office and a county firefighter were aboard the helicopter when it went down near Las Vegas, New Mexico, about 123 miles northeast of Albuquerque. Killed in the crash were Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison and county Fire and Rescue Department Specialist Matthew King. Further details were not made immediately available.
According to a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman, the Bell UH-1H helicopter crashed around 10 p.m. Saturday. The cause of the crash is unknown and will be investigated by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board. New Mexico State Police confirmed the crash and the fatalities around 12:15 a.m. Sunday, saying that the helicopter and its crew had been assisting with a wildfire in the Las Vegas area Saturday, providing bucket drops and other air logistics needs to fire crews on the ground. In the past several days, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office used its Metro 2 helicopter to fight a small fire in the East Mountains near Albuquerque and another fire near Santa Fe.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement: “I am heartbroken by the tragic loss of four New Mexicans while in the line of duty. As we await additional details on the investigation, my office will offer any available support and assistance to the sheriff’s office and the county. State resources will be fully available to assist the investigation.”
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