‘It’s a travesty’: Harvest residents recall the moment a Black Hawk crashed on Hwy. 53

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 12:30 AM CST
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HARVEST, Ala. (WAFF) - Micheal Mclein was on his way to pick up his daughter from school when he witnessed something terrifying.

“As soon as it hits you heard it you seen the smoke,” Mclein said. “I mean there was no ifs, ands or buts that it crashed.”

Mclein saw a Tennessee National Guard Black Hawk helicopter crash down nearly half a mile from his house. The Black Hawk burst into flames upon impact at Highway 53 and Burwell Road in Harvest after 3 p.m. narrowly avoiding cars on the busy roads.

“The police were just cutting us off. You ain’t ever seen so many cops fly through here at once,” said Mclein.

Nearby neighbors who saw the crash said they are keeping the families of the victims in their thoughts and prayers. Susanna Hill heard the thunderous boom of the crash as she was putting her daughter to sleep.

“I remember seeing the smoke and I was like ‘Oh my goodness, what happened?’ And that’s when I found out it was a helicopter crash,” said Hill, “We’re hoping that the families are being held by God right now.”

Mclein said he worked with the military for several years, so the news was especially hard to hear.

“It’s a travesty because you know these guys go out here to put their lives on the line and fight for us and then you got this where they’re just flying and die like that? It’s not the way it should’ve went,” he said.

The military will be conducting further investigations on this crash, starting with identifying the victims and determining what happened to bring that helicopter down.

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