NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana National Guard released a statement Thursday morning that the joint investigation into the Black Hawk helicopter crash that killed 11 service members, including four Louisiana Guardsmen, was caused by pilot error.
The report stated the investigation by the LANG and US Special Operations Command determined the direct cause of the accident was "spatial disorientation of both pilots, which caused them to lose control of the aircraft."
Officials further stated pilot Chief Warrant Officer George Wayne Griffin and co-pilot Chief Warrant Officer George David Strother failed to use their instruments as thick sea fog rolled into the area where the training was taking place. The investigation has been concluded.
The four members of the Louisiana National Guard killed in the crash were based in Hammond. They were from the 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment. They were identified as: Chief Warrant Officer 4 George Wayne Griffin Jr, 37; Chief Warrant Officer 4 George David Strother, 44; Staff Sgt. Lance Bergeron, 40; and Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26.
The Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina were identified as: Capt. Stanford Henry Shaw III of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Master Sgt. Thomas Saunders of Camp Lejeune; Staff Sgt. Liam Flynn of Queens, New York; Staff Sgt. Trevor P. Blaylock of Lake Orion, Michigan; Staff Sgt. Kerry Michael Kemp of Port Washington, Wisconsin; Staff Sgt. Andrew Seif of Holland, Michigan; and Staff Sgt. Marcus Bawol from Warren, Michigan.
"Throughout this tragedy, we have focused on supporting the families and ensured that they are fully informed of all information relevant to the crash," said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG. "Training for high-risk, realistic missions, is something these service members accepted on a regular basis to be able to do their job when called upon. We will continue to honor their sacrifice and remember their legacy."
The Louisiana Army National Guard was participating in a routine night-time training exercise with the Marine 2nd Special Operations Battalion. The Black Hawk carrying the four aircrew and seven Marines crashed into the Santa Rosa Sound in Navarre, Florida, on March 10.