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Wreckage of crashed Black Hawk found

Three crewmen are presumed dead
Soldiers gather near Florence to search for wreckage.
Military Bases
Disasters (General)
U.S. Army

(CNN) -- The wreckage of a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that went missing during a routine training flight was found Tuesday evening along the banks of a South Carolina river, and the three soldiers in the flight crew are presumed dead, a military spokesman said.

The Black Hawk wreckage was found in a heavily wooded area in the median of Interstate 95, where the freeway crosses the Great Pee Dee River near Dillon, South Carolina, said Maj. Richard Patterson of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.

"There were no visible signs of survivors at the scene," Patterson said, adding that the search-and-rescue mission for the helicopter has become a search-and-recovery mission.

Patterson said names of the three members of the flight crew will not be released until their next of kin have been notified.

The helicopter, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, was flying in bad weather from Fort Bragg to Florence, South Carolina, Monday night when it went missing.

Another helicopter traveling with it landed at a civilian airport in Dillon after losing contact with the first aircraft.

The crew of that helicopter returned to Fort Bragg and has been questioned as part of the investigation into the crash, Patterson said.

Dusty Owens, the emergency management director for Florence County, South Carolina, said the wreckage was spotted by a truck driver traveling down I-95, who reported it just before 8 p.m.

After hearing reports of the search and seeing search aircraft overhead, the driver saw broken tree limbs and searched until he found the wreckage, Owens said.

Some of the debris from the crashed helicopter was found in the river, and a team of divers has been brought in as part of the recovery effort, Owens said. One lane of I-95 has been closed to facilitate the recovery effort.

About 120 square miles were searched from the air after the helicopter was reported missing. But dense woods in the area made spotting the wreckage difficult from the air, Owens said.

The Black Hawk did not have a survival beacon.

The crash site is about 70 miles southwest of Fort Bragg.

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