A criminal investigation is under way into an Army helicopter crash last week that killed one soldier.
The March 30 crash at Wright Army Airfield, near Fort Stewart in Georgia, left Capt. James Bellew dead, according to Army Times. Two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were involved in the 2 a.m. crash.
Army Times reported that a source it did not name said the crash was “not an accident.”
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the incident, according to 3rd Infantry Division spokeswoman Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder.
Army Combat Readiness Center safety experts are also investigating.
CID’s continued involvement indicates that criminal activity is suspected in the crash, the report said. According to Army accident investigation regulations, having CID involved is an indication that the incident was not routine.
The rules say an “accident investigation will be discontinued if the evidence indicates that the incident was the result of a criminal act.”
Bellew was on MedEvac duty on March 30, Elder said.
“Capt. Bellew was the only crewmember involved in the incident and he was the only one injured or killed in the incident,” Elder said.
“The initial indication is that all other crew members were asleep at the time of the incident,” she said.
The details of what took place are uncertain, including how one individual could start at least one helicopter without awakening anyone nearby.
“At this point, we cannot address the manner of the damage to the two aircraft, timeline of events, or the response from the tower and emergency services, as those details are still considered part of the active investigation,” Elder said.
“No further information will be released at this time to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” Elder said.
Bellew, 26, was praised by his commander.
Army Capt. James T. Bellew, 26, was found dead at the site of a helicopter crash involving two HH-60 helicopters at Wright Army Airfield at about 2 a.m. today. He was a native of Charlottesville, Va., according to the Army. pic.twitter.com/BpSZZLQw62
— Caitlin Doornbos (@CaitlinDoornbos) March 31, 2022
“The loss of James is an immeasurable tragedy to his family, friends, crew, and fellow soldiers,” Col. Eric Vanek said.
His MedEvac role was “one of the noblest professions imaginable … a role where he was constantly helping, and saving the lives of others,” Vanek said.
Elder said, “We have been overwhelmed by the support and condolences on this tragic event and ask that people respect the desire for privacy and time to grieve by the Bellew family, as well as our soldiers.”