BOISE, Idaho — Three Idaho Army National Guard pilots died after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed Tuesday night. Several crews, including the Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue Unit (IMSARU), were part of the difficult task to locate and assess the crash site.
Scotty Perkins, PR director for IMSARU, said when the Idaho Army National Guard called Tuesday night asking for help to find a missing Black Hawk helicopter in the backcountry, he knew it was urgent.
"Intuitively, we understand if the army has lost contact with one of its aircraft. There are potentially service members in play that need immediate support, and that was our primary focus," said Perkins, who was also part of the search effort.
More than 40 IMSARU volunteers searched the area south of Lucky Peak, a territory familiar with the rescuers.
"It really is an incredible hilly and rugged area over that particular area. There were a couple of factors in play. First was just the general relief of the mountains, the steepness of the mountain, which provides for a lot of different depths of snow. The changing weather conditions," Perkins said.
Once they established a base, crews needed snowmobiles to continue the search.
"The temperatures dropped rapidly, below freezing rapidly, pretty quickly. The winds were reasonably high, lot of blowing snow. One of the things the teams realized was it was going to be difficult to get ATVs and wheel vehicles into the area that we were intended to explore," Perkins said.
The Unit trains extensively in different weather conditions so when they get called upon, they head into the worst conditions, hoping for the best.
Perkins said IMSARU has a very close relationship with the Army National Guard because they have provided support to the team during difficult times.
"Our deep gratitude for the Army National Guard in the service they provide to us, not just members of the unit, but also as Idahoans and Americans. Our deepest condolences to the family members of those three service members that died and members of their unit who continue to provide some support," Perkins said.