Helicopter crash investigation now led by Army, NTSB

Friday, December 30, 2016
Texas Military Department begins its investigation into deadly helicopter crash
Texas Military Department begins its investigation into deadly helicopter crash.

LA PORTE, Texas (KTRK) -- For a second afternoon, crews continued a recovery mission at the spot where an Apache attack helicopter went down midair. Witnesses said they heard a loud sound moments before the aircraft fell apart and fell into the water outside the Bayport Cruise Terminal.

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Two pilots were on board. This afternoon, they were identified as Dustin Mortenson of League City, 32, and Lucas Maurice Lowe, 33, of Hardin, Texas. Both soldiers were Army Chief Warrants Officers.

As of this afternoon, one body had been recovered from the water.

A crane pulled pieces of submerged debris from the ship channel where the chopper went down. A secondary debris field is on land, where pieces of the rotor were hurled.

The cause of the crash is now the focus of an investigation by the Army and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Relatives of 33-year-old Lucas Lowe from Hardin told ABC13 they've been notified of his death.

The helicopter is equipped to carry weaponry, but it was unarmed yesterday.

It was the first incident of its kind attached to the Texas Army National Guard at Ellington.

"I was surprised," said Colonel Michael Dye of the Texas National Guard, who's attached to aviation safety at the base.

The Apache helicopter has a long military history.

Texas remembers two National Guard pilots killed in helicopter crash

"You don't ever expect (this). This unit has never had an accident with one of these aircrafts so it was surprising."

The investigation is expected to take at least a month before any initial findings are made public.

For now, the personal focus is on the two families grieving for the husbands and fathers they lost.

"We're helping them through this terrible time, helping them grieve and cope with the situation they're facing right now," said Major General John Nichols. "We lost two Texas heroes."