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Black Hawk crash: Highway reopened, bodies of servicemen escorted from county

CWO 3 Daniel Wadham of Joelton, and CWO 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro were killed in Wednesday's Black Hawk helicopter crash in Harvest.

HARVEST, Ala. — UPDATE 2/17 3:00 PM - According to the Madison County Coroner, The bodies of the Tennessee National Guardsmen killed in Wednesday's crash are began to be transported Friday afternoon with a law enforcement escort from Madison County. The remains will travel to a mortuary service in Enterprise, Alabama, where they will later be transferred by air from Pensacola, Florida to Dover, Delaware. Autopsies will be performed by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner in Dover. 

UPDATE 2/17 1:00 PM The Alabama Department of Transportation advises motorists that repairs to Alabama 53 near Burwell Road in Madison County are now complete and all lanes are open in both directions. 

This morning’s repairs included patching a small section of pavement on the southbound roadway and filling an area of the median. ALDOT anticipates the paving crew being on site again in several weeks to perform additional paving for a longer-term fix 

UPDATE 2/16 3:15 PM: The Tennessee National Guard officially revealed the names of the two men killed in Wednesday's Black Hawk helicopter crash as Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Wadham of Joelton and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Danny Randolph of Murfreesboro.

In the Guard's statement, they said the Black Hawk was approaching the Huntsville Executive Airport when the aircraft rapidly descended and impacted the ground on Highway 53 in Harvest.  

“Words cannot express my sorrow for the loss of these two Tennessee National Guardsmen,” said Brig. Gen. Warner Ross. “It is felt not only within the ranks of the Tennessee National Guard, but across our entire military community. We ask that Tennesseans continue to join us in prayer for these soldiers’ families amid this tragic loss.”

The ID comes as Madison County crews continue to clear the wreckage. Deputies believe crash debris could be scattered across areas near the crash site. If you locate any wreckage, you are asked to avoid the area and contact MCSO at (256) 722-7181.

The area of the highway in the crash zone remains closed at this hour.

UPDATE 2/16 11:20 AM: 

The following statement regarding the Tennessee National Guard helicopter crash in Alabama is from the American Red Cross:

Our hearts are with the loved ones and family members who have been impacted by this tragic incident. As additional details continue to emerge about the helicopter crash in Huntsville, Alabama, the American Red Cross is coordinating with local officials and the Tennessee National Guard to offer mental health support, spiritual care and other services to those at Joint Base Berry Field, A Co, 1-230th Assault Helicopter Battalion in Nashville and family members as they process their emotions during this difficult time. 

UPDATE 8:20 PM. Tennessee National Guard confirms in a statement the loss of two service members during a training flight, and that no other service members or civilians were harmed.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of two Tennessee National Guardsmen, and our prayers are with their families during this heartbreaking tragedy,” said Brig. Gen. Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “We ask Tennesseans to join us in supporting their families during this time of unthinkable grief.”

Federal and Alabama state authorities are still investigating the circumstances leading to the crash.

Madison County coroner Dr. Tyler Berryhill released the following statement:

I have been working at the scene along with assistance from the sheriff's office crime scene unit and local fire departments for the duration of approximately 3 hours to recover the remains of two soldiers killed in the helicopter incident. Human recovery operations were successfully completed from the wreckage tonight shortly after 07:00 pm. 

Preliminary examinations of the bodies have been completed. The full autopsy procedures and scientific identification will be conducted through the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at a later date. My prayers are with the families of our American heroes tonight.  

UPDATE 7:03 PM. Madison County deputies say the ongoing investigation into a fatal helicopter crash will heavily impact Thursday morning traffic. Areas of Highway 53 between Jeff and Douglas Roads and Research Park Blvd. and Jeff Road will be closed to northbound and southbound traffic until at least Thursday afternoon.

[HELICOPTER CRASH UPDATE] [ROADWAY CLOSURES TOMORROW] MCSO deputies remain on the scene of a helicopter crash in the...

Posted by Madison County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, February 15, 2023

UPDATE: 5:46 PM. Two people were killed in the crash of a Tennessee National Guard Helicopter just north of Huntsville, according to HEMSI Community Relations Officer Don Webster.


A military helicopter belonging to the Tennessee National Guard crash-landed near a busy highway Wednesday afternoon. HEMSI Community Relations Officer Don Webster said the crash happened just after 3 p.m. in an area near Highway 53 and Burwell Rd. in Harvest.

Reginal King with ALEA confirmed the craft was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Webster confirmed two people were on board the helicopter when it crashed.

According to a Military.com spec sheet on the UH-60, the basic crew complement for the UH-60A is three: pilot, co-pilot, and crew chief. The A model was designed to carry 11 combat troops in addition to a crew of three.

Redstone Arsenal, which is about 16 miles southeast from the crash site, earlier confirmed the helicopter is not connected to their facility:

Redstone Arsenal leaders are aware of reports of a helicopter incident near Highway 53 in Huntsville. First responders are on scene, and Redstone Arsenal is in full support of local authorities in their active investigation. Initial investigations have determined that the incident is not connected to Redstone Arsenal assets, and we will continue to support community authorities as the situation develops.

Pictures sent by viewer Charles Jimmison showed a plume of black smoke rising above rooftops in an adjacent neighborhood. Another picture from Jimmison showed a group of emergency vehicles including police and fire engines across the roadway, roping off the area in yellow incident tape.

It is advised to avoid the area while emergency responders continue their assessment of the situation. Madison County deputies say everything south of Hwy. 53 to Jeff Rd. is closed, as well as between Douglas Rd. and Hwy. 53.

Closures are expected to continue throughout the evening as ALEA and MCSO clear the scene.

Credit: Charles Jimmison

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