2 officers killed in La. police helicopter crash
The Robinson R-44 helicopter went out at 2 a.m. to help with a pursuit and never returned
By Ellyn Couvillion
BATON ROUGE, La. — Two police pilots were killed early Sunday in a Baton Rouge police helicopter crash in Erwinville.
Chief Murphy Paul spoke at a news conference Sunday afternoon near the scene but released few details and would take no questions from reporters.
"Today is a very emotional day for the men and women of the Baton Rouge Police Department and all of the law enforcement community," Paul said, adding that he will not release the names of the pilots until their next-of-kin are notified with sufficient information about the crash.
"I ask the community to lift our officers up in prayer and lift the family members of these two heroes up in prayer," Paul said.
He did not discuss the timing of the incident and the response, or why the helicopter was flying at that time.
The helicopter went down around 3 a.m. Sunday in a field off North Winterville Road, near U.S. 190 at Erwinville, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Information from the FlightAware web site indicates the helicopter had taken off from Baton Rouge Metro Airport at 2:26 a.m. and the flight ended 12 minutes later at 2:38 a.m.
The FAA said they and the National Transportation Safety Board will be the lead investigators of the crash of the Robinson R-44 helicopter.
State Police and the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office worked the scene, near the woods at the edge of sugarcane fields, about a half-mile from a narrow gravel road running through the fields.
By Sunday afternoon, more than 50 vehicles from various agencies were at the scene or near it, including the West Baton Rouge Coroner's Office and Acadian Ambulance.
In a news release Sunday afternoon, Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome extended her "deepest condolences to the families and colleagues of the BRPD officers who tragically lost their lives today in a helicopter crash.
"These officers served our community with distinction and bravery, and we will forever be grateful for their service and sacrifice.
"We are working closely with the Baton Rouge Police Department to offer support for their investigation into the cause of this tragedy and to provide support to the families and colleagues of the fallen officers.
"We ask the community keep the families of the fallen officers in their thoughts and prayers, and we express our heartfelt gratitude to all of the first responder agencies who have been working tirelessly to support our city during this difficult time."
Michelle Woodfork, superintendent of New Orleans Police Department, said in a news release Sunday evening that "on behalf of the men and women of the New Orleans Police Department , I extend my sincerest condolences to the families and colleagues of the Baton Rouge Police Department officers who tragically lost their lives today in the line of duty."
A little after 3:30 p.m. Sunday, an escort of motorcycle officers and other units led the way for the coroner's van as it traveled along the gravel road out of the fields.
Officers standing along the side of the road saluted as it passed.
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