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Two soldiers, Border Patrol agent killed in U.S. military helicopter crash near southern border

Border Patrol and first responders on the scene of a helicopter crash in Starr County, Texas, on Friday, March 8. | KRGV via CNN Newsource
TEXAS (CNN) — A U.S. military helicopter crashed Friday afternoon near the southern border, killing two soldiers and a U.S. Border Patrol agent, according to a statement from the military.
Another soldier was injured in the incident.
“We are heartbroken by the devastating loss of Border Patrol Agent Chris Luna, as well as National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski and Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia, in Friday’s helicopter crash near Rio Grande City, Texas,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement.
The UH-72 Lakota helicopter assigned to the federal Southwest border support mission was conducting aviation operations near Rio Grande City, Texas, the military statement said. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The helicopter was following migrants before it crashed in “an open field,” Starr County Judge Eloy Vera told CNN.
A person in critical condition was sent to McAllen Medical Center in McAllen, Texas, Vera said. County officials were waiting on federal authorities to get to town so they can start the investigation, he added.
CNN has reached out to the hospital for additional information.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday that his “deepest condolences” are with the families of the two National Guardsmen and U.S. Border Patrol agent who were killed.
“These brave Americans dedicated their lives to protecting our nation. They signed up knowing the risks and believing in the mission of serving their fellow Americans by keeping our nation safe,” Biden said. “We extend our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones, as well as their colleagues in the National Guard and U.S. Border Patrol.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas hailed Luna as a “heroic public servant” in a statement Sunday.
“Trooper Grassia, who was dedicated to serving and protecting not only the citizens of New York State but also the citizens of the entire United States, will be remembered for his ultimate sacrifice,” the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association said in a statement.
Rensselaer, New York, Mayor Mike Stammel also posted about Frankoski, “A proud native of Rensselaer and distinguished graduate of Columbia High School, Casey was not only an excellent student but also excelled in sports and community service before joining the New York National Guard. Casey comes from a family deeply rooted in public service, and her legacy as an American hero resonates throughout our community.”
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