A Colombian National Army helicopter tragically crashed on Monday en route to an air base near the Panama border, resulting in the death of four people and injuries to three others. The incident, captured in a video that rapidly spread on social media, took place just moments prior to the crash.
The aircraft involved, a UH-60 Black Hawk belonging to the Aviation Mobility and Maneuver Battalion No. 7 and bearing the registration EJC 2188, “met with an accident” while performing an aerial cargo operation to the Cuti Binational Military Base, situated in the Colombian municipality of Unguía (northwest), roughly 15 kilometers from Panama.
The Colombian Army released an official statement identifying the four deceased as Major Karol Felipe García, the pilot of the aircraft, Captain Darío Bernal Toloza from the 46th Voltígeros Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant Jhon Barbosa Cruz, co-pilot, and Sergeant Javier Reino, the crew chief.
The statement further revealed that the injured personnel – First Vice Sergeant Jhonatan del Río, flight technician, First Corporal Alejandro Gutiérrez Trejos, and professional soldier Galindo Suárez Prada – were transported to a specialized medical center in the municipality of Apartadó, Antioquia. However, their current health status was not confirmed.
General Luis Ospina, commander of the Colombian army, mourned the loss of the “brave soldiers” on social media, expressing his sorrow over their unfortunate demise in the crash.
The Army has not yet determined the cause of the crash, although a team of experts has been dispatched to the site to investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident, as per the statement.
The region where the helicopter crashed is a stronghold of the Gulf Clan, Colombia’s main drug trafficking organization, which also controls the land passage to Panama through the treacherous Darién Gap jungle, as per Colombian authorities.
Prior to the incident, the Army had communicated with Panamanian authorities for a verification process in the area.