Army National Guard announces names of Warrant Officers killed in Apache crash in Galveston Bay
LaPorte, Texas – December 29, 2016. A Texas National Guard spokesman announced the names of the two Warrant Officers killed shortly before 4 pm Wednesday when their AH-64 Apache from the 1-149th Attack Helicopter Battalion based at Ellington Field, crashed into the water while taking part in a routine training flight.
Killed in the crash were Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Dustin Lee Mortenson, 32, of League City and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lucas Maurice Lowe, 33, of Hardin, Texas. Both men were married, and father’s of two children each, Lowe’s wife Kami, also pregnant and expecting twin girls. Lowe was an Army veteran who had previously served fourteen years in the Army, including a tour in Iraq in 2008 before joining the TExas National Guard upon completion of his Army career.
The helicopter suffered what appeared to be an apparent catastrophic failure of the main rotor mast assembly at approximately 3:50 pm according to 911 calls reporting the crash. Photographs taken at the scene show an almost intact main rotor mast assembly with at least one blade still attached shot by a news helicopter that arrived on scene shortly after the crash. The blades and rotor mast assembly sat near a fenceline in grass, 25 yards forward of where the helicopter floated submerged upside down with only its wheels visible above the water line.
Eyewitnesses on the ground interviewed by local television news media reported hearing a loud boom as the helicopter flew close to the Bayport Cruise Terminal, looking up to see the Apache helicopter’s main rotor blades separate from the fuselage before it began spinning and fell out of sight.
Recovery efforts continued overnight as divers worked to free both crew members bodies from the wreckage. A task that continued through the following day with both bodies now recovered. A barge sits currently anchored at the scene, likely to assist in the salvage of the AH-64 Apache as military crash investigators make their way from their base at Ft. Rucker Alabama to the site of the accident, located approximately 25 miles outside of Houston, Texas. The investigation into the crash expected not to have any preliminary investigation results for at least a month according to a US Army spokesperson.
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Photos courtesy of ABC13 Houston