'Immediately began praying': Black Hawk helicopter crash heard by Trigg County pastor
Nicolas Clark, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, and his wife were sitting in their living room Wednesday night in Trigg County, Kentucky.
Their four children were all asleep, and they were enjoying the rest of their evening.
Around 10 p.m., they heard a loud boom. Not long after, there was another boom. They felt a vibration.
Living so close to Fort Campbell, loud noises and helicopters all through the night are nothing new, but Clark said he knew immediately these weren't the usual sounds.
"This was a different kind of sound, and it alarmed us a lot more," said Clark, who also occasionally serves as an adjunct professor at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "It reverberated, and we could feel it."
Their children didn't hear anything and stayed asleep, but he and his wife were concerned. His first thought was that something blew up or maybe a car hit the tree stump that sits close to the road, causing a crash.
It wasn't long before he talked to members of his church, who said that they heard the booms as well. One member confirmed it was a helicopter and an hour later, he was told by a neighbor close to the site that it was on Maple Grove Road.
"We just immediately began praying," Clark said.
Although Clark and his wife were unable to see the accident, it wasn't long before he heard helicopters flying overhead, and military personnel blocked off the road.
Within hours, the U.S. Army announced two HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed nearby. Later on Thursday, officials announced all nine service members on two helicopters died in the crash.
With Oak Grove, founded in 1875 in a quiet wooded area, only about half a mile away from the crash site, Clark opened his church to give out water and allow emergency workers to use their bathrooms.
Clark said he stayed up pretty late Wednesday night, into Thursday morning, trying to follow the events, hoping no one was hurt and no homes were hit.
"It's been horrific," Clark said. "It's a tragic thing that has happened, and we're just dumbfounded by it."
One Black Hawk was carrying five soldiers and another carrying four soldiers, according to Brig. Gen. John Lubas.
Officials said the crash occurred around 10 p.m. during a routine training mission in Trigg County — approximately 80 miles northwest of Nashville. A news release from the U.S. Army was posted on Twitter just after 2 a.m.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear spoke about the crash during a Thursday press conference.
"Today is a tough and tragic day for Kentucky, for the Fort Campbell and for the 101st," Beshear said. "The nine individuals we lost are children of God. They will be mourned and missed by their families, by their communities."
The crash has been one of the deadliest to occur during a training operation at Fort Campbell.
This article originally appeared on Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: Black Hawk helicopter crash: Pastor reflects on being near Trigg Co. crash