ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — Investigators say it could be days before any information is known as to how the Minnesota National Guard helicopter crash occurred, killing three soldiers.
While the investigation continues, the family that owns the property where it happened decided to put up an American flag to honor the victims.
“We were just waiting for something for us to do. We want to help. That’s the way our whole community is,” Helen Krippner said.
The Krippner family didn’t see or hear the crash, but it happened on their land. Like most people, they want the victim’s families to know they’re standing behind them.
“It’s tough. We don’t even have the worst of it. There are three families out there reeling from this,” Kurt Krippner said. “I just feel for them.”
Today the Krippner family placed an American Flag in the field near the incident site honoring the three fallen National Guard Soldiers. 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/1jRmEv8fiF
— Stearns County Sheriff (@Stearns_Sheriff) December 6, 2019
A few hundred yards west of the Krippner’s flag, investigators from the Army Readiness Safety Center out of Alabama worked through the site. The UH 60 Blackhawk left St. Cloud around 2 p.m. Thursday for a maintenance test flight. A mayday call went out just before the crash.
“At first we didn’t know if they got killed. It’s really sad,” neighbor Tom Konz said.
Konz came home to find squad cars on his property and search helicopters flying overhead.
“They just kept going by and they had helicopters up above too. They were covering all the roads,” Konz said.
The National Guard said the victims’ families have been notified and they’ll release their names on Saturday.
“We just want them to know we support them and stand behind them. Thank you for serving our country,” Kurt Krippner said.
The Krippners said they plan to install a permanent flagpole in the summer so that the victims of this crash are never forgotten.
National Guard officials said Friday that the next of kin of the soldiers killed have been notified of their loved one’s deaths. Per policy, the names of the soldiers won’t be released to the public for at least another 24 hours.
On Thursday evening, Gov. Tim Walz, a former Minnesota National Guard soldier, called the crash a “tragic loss” for the state.
“The coming days will be dark and difficult,” he said. “The state of Minnesota stands at the ready to assist the families of all fallen heroes.”
On Friday, Walz ordered all United States flags and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings beginning at 2:05 p.m. Friday until Monday at 2:05 p.m.