Police lead enquiry into RAF Lakenheath helicopter crash

USAF photograph of a 48th Fighter Wing HH-60G Pave Hawk, taken by Senior Airman Tiffany Grigg
USAF photograph of a 48th Fighter Wing HH-60G Pave Hawk, taken by Senior Airman Tiffany Grigg
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Police are continuing to lead an enquiry into last night’s helicopter crash on the North Norfolk coast in which four airmen from RAF Lakenheath were killed.

The helicopter, a USAF Pave Hawk HH-60G assigned to RAF Lakenheath’s 48th Fighter Wing, was on a low-level training mission when it crashed on Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Cley Marshes Nature Reserve at around 7pm.

Details of those who died have not yet been released.

Agencies including police, Ministry of Defence and US Air Force are continuing to assess the crash site, which Chief Superintendent Bob Scully described earlier today as the size of a ‘football pitch’.

The police helicopter is assisting at the scene and Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake is also in attendance.

A strict cordon remains in place and Norfolk Police has thanked members of the public who have adhered to advice to avoid the area. Road closures are still in place.

A significant number of bullets from the crashed aircraft remain scattered across the area.

Speaking from the scene, Chief Supt Scully said: “Police continue to work with various partner agencies to piece together the exact circumstances concerning the crash.

“It remains a challenging, lengthy process due to the difficult terrain and the size of the area needed to be assessed.

“This will remain a police-led operation until such time the coroner is satisfied that the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the four occupants of the helicopter are non suspicious.”

The scene is being assessed ‘in situ’ and the bodies of those who died will be removed once that has taken place.

Colonel Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said: “The loss of our Liberty Wing brethren is felt deeply across RAF Lakenheath. I can only imagine the hurt and sorrow felt by the family and friends of these Airmen. You are in our hearts and minds.

“We’re already feeling a great sense of support from across the Air Force and from our UK neighbours as we go through this difficult period. Thank you for keeping our airmen and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”

Colin Noble, who represents Lakenheath on Suffolk County Council and Forest Heath District Council, said: “You watch these things on the TV and it certainly hits home to you when you consider that in the community there may well be people that get that terrible knock at the door about one of their loved ones.

“The American airbases have been with us since the Second World War and it’s times like this you realise the risk these men and women take on our behalf, and the community’s. We’re all in shock and our thoughts go out to the families.”