Two Blackhawk helicopters crashed near a Utah ski resort on Tuesday morning, forcing part of the mountain to close but leaving no crew seriously injured
Utah National Guard spokesman Jared Jones said the accident happened during a standard training exercise on US Forest Service land just outside the boundaries of Snowbird Ski Resort, about 47 kilometers from Salt Lake City.
Skiers and snowboarders enjoying the fresh snow and clear skies said from a nearby chairlift they could hear a thud and see significant amounts of dust emanating from the crash site. As it settled, some could see broken propeller blades in the wreckage.
“I saw a rotor fly off, and it was scary because it just started spinning in the air,” said Kaia Shine, 8, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
The two UH-60 helicopters crashed near Mineral Basin, a normally windy canyon in the back of Snowbird known for its expert terrain, Jones said.
Jones said it was common for pilots landing in difficult areas, regardless of weather conditions, to prepare for combat. He did not provide information on the cause of the accident, but said efforts were underway to investigate the incident and remove damaged equipment from the side of the mountain.
“We train on the wire to be ready for a combat environment anywhere in the world. Crews assume a certain level of risk. Every time you fly a helicopter, there is a bit of danger involved. I’m just happy that everyone is okay,” he said.
The crash comes about a year after two similar helicopter crashes. In January 2021, a UH-60 Blackhawk crashed during a training exercise and killed three in New York. The following month, a similar accident killed three people in Boise, Idaho.
Joseph Schafer, a 23-year-old man from Provo, Utah, said the crash boom sounded like the blast sound of explosive ski patrols launched to control and prevent avalanches.
Snowbird is known as one of the top ski and snowboard destinations in the United States due to the abundant snowfall and variety of terrain.