Susan Shepard heard the helicopter loudly buzzing over her home in Harvest.
Minutes later, the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed on a Madison County highway, killing the two Tennessee National Guardsman aboard the aircraft.
Shepard was in her home in the Burwell Gardens subdivision when her alarm went off at 2:58 p.m. Wednesday to remind her to pick up her daughter from Sparkman High School.
“All of the sudden, we heard this loud noise. It sounded like a dragster car, or like when a tractor-trailer shifts down or puts on its brakes,” Shepard told AL.com.
As she headed out the door, her neighbor told her a helicopter just crashed.
“I turned to right and turned out of our subdivision when I saw the big, black plume of smoke,” Shepard recalled.
No survivors in Alabama Black Hawk crash. My heart goes out to these soldiers and their families.#blackhawkdown pic.twitter.com/xAo9PuUrCd— Ronnie Lucero (@RonnieLuceroNM) February 16, 2023
The Harvest resident turned onto Madison County Highway 53 when she saw the burnt wreckage.
“Everyone was pulled over and stopped, so I pulled over and stopped and took a few videos of it as well,” she said.
“It was heartbreaking,” Shepard added. “I could tell from what I saw that there were no survivors.”
The Tennessee National Guard said two of its soldiers were killed in the crash, which occurred during a routine training mission.
While the investigation into the crash is in its early stages, Shepard speculated that since she heard the helicopter over her house minutes before the crash that the pilot maneuvered so he could avoid casualties on the ground.
“I think that that pilot was a hero and probably saved a lot of lives,” she said.
“However he did it, he probably saved our subdivision.”
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