Investigators examine why Army helicopters blew down tents
Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. – Investigators were trying to determine Thursday why two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters were flying so close to four large nylon tents that blew down during a training exercise at a California military base, injuring 22 Army Reserve soldiers.
The injuries from the accident on Wednesday night were not considered serious. Col. David Heflin told reporters the injuries included cuts and bruises, sore shoulders, injured limbs and non-serious head trauma.
Heflin said 20 soldiers were evacuated to the Fort Hunter Liggett Troop Medical Center and neighboring hospitals, including two that had to be airlifted. All were released from the hospital and 10 had already returned to the base on Thursday.
The rest will return to the training later in the day, said Master Sgt. Valerie Resciniti, an Army spokeswoman.
The soldiers are members of the 228th Combat Support Hospital out of San Antonio, Texas, and were participating in a medical evacuation training exercise, she said. Other soldiers were able to quickly respond and provided medical care to the injured until emergency responders arrived.
“They were equipped and trained to immediately jump in and they were quickly able to respond to the situation,” Rescinti said.
Photos of the scene showed the green tents, which can sleep up to 40 people, partially collapsed and tent stakes ripped out from the ground. The tents were not fully occupied when they collapsed, Rescinti said.
The accident occurred during annual training exercises for about 8,000 Army Reserve soldiers and military troops from Canada, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and Colombia.
The 20-day combat support training exercise, which ends July 27, is held annually.
Fort Hunter Liggett is about 170 miles south of San Francisco. The sprawling base is the largest U.S. Army Reserve Command post.
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