Three Dead in National Guard Helicopter Crash Near Border

( – A helicopter of the National Guard on a support mission close to the U.S.–Mexico border crashed recently, killing three of the aircraft’s passengers.

The Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force North identified the fatalities as 28-year-old Chief Warrant Officer Casey Frankoski and 30-year-old Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia. The pair belonged to the National Guard and hailed from Rensselaer and Schenectady, New York, respectively. Authorities also said that a third person, also from the National Guard, survived the ordeal but is in critical condition. His name has not been released as of this writing. The other casualty was a member of the Border Patrol, who was identified as Agent Chris Luna.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who also confirmed the incident, released a statement sending condolences to the families of the victims, thanking them for their service to the country.

President Joe Biden also released a statement on the incident, saying that the victims’ “sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

“We pray for the injured Guardsman’s swift recovery,” the president added.

The helicopter, a Lakota UH-72, crashed in La Grulla, a border town in Texas. The twin-engine helicopter is generally used for support missions and is not deployed in combat missions or hostile environments.

The aircraft was assigned to the federal Southwest border support mission, and the group of victims were on a routine operation when the crash occurred, officials said. Investigators are still probing into what could have caused the crash and no other details pertaining to the cause of the incident have been released as of press time.

Fox News reported that the mission the helicopter was on was for the DHS. The incident marks the second time this year a helicopter has crashed along the Texas border. In January, a helicopter on a patrol mission for the Texas Department of Public Safety crashed after the aircraft suddenly lost power. The co-pilot only suffered minor injuries.

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