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3 killed, 1 injured in National Guard helicopter crash near US-Mexico border

3 killed, 1 injured in National Guard helicopter crash near US-Mexico border
Photo Credit: ABC News

Three people were killed and one person was injured in a National Guard helicopter crash near the US-Mexico border on Friday, officials said.

The UH-72 Lakota helicopter, which was flying over the border as part of the federal Southwest border support mission, went down around 2:50 p.m. local time near Rio Grande City, Texas, according to a statement from the Joint Task Force North.

The helicopter had four people on board, including two National Guard soldiers, a U.S. Border Patrol agent, and a civilian contractor, the statement said. The names of the victims have not been released pending notification of their families.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, with the assistance of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash site was located in a rural area about 41 miles west of McAllen, Texas, near the Rio Grande River, which forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

The helicopter was one of several that have been deployed to the border region to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in conducting aerial surveillance, reconnaissance, and transportation operations, according to the Joint Task Force North.

The task force is a multi-service military organization that provides operational and logistical support to federal law enforcement agencies in countering transnational threats along the U.S. borders.

The crash drew condolences from state and national leaders, who praised the service and sacrifice of the victims.

"Kathy and I are heartbroken by the tragic loss of three brave Texans and one American in a helicopter crash near the border today," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones during this difficult time."

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said he and his wife Kelly were "saddened" by the deaths of the two soldiers and the border patrol agent.

"They represent selfless service and the best of America," Hokanson said on X. "We pray for the speedy recovery of a third Guard soldier who was seriously injured."

Acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller also expressed his condolences and gratitude to the victims and their families.

"These brave men and women work tirelessly to secure our borders and protect our nation," Miller said in a statement. "We are forever grateful for their service and sacrifice."