SALT LAKE CITY — Two Blackhawk helicopters crashed near a Utah ski resort Tuesday morning, forcing the closures on part of the mountain but leaving no crew members seriously hurt.
Utah National Guard spokesman Jared Jones said that the crash occurred during a standard training exercise on U.S. Forest Service land just outside the boundaries of Snowbird Ski Resort, about 28 miles (47 kilometers) from Salt Lake City.
Skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of fresh snow and clear skies said, from a nearby chairlift, they could hear a loud thud and see significant amounts of dust emanating from the crash site. When it settled, some could see broken propeller blades in the wreckage.
"I saw a rotor fly off, and it was scary because it just started twisting around in the air," 8-year-old Kaia Shine from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, said.
The two UH-60 helicopters crashed near Mineral Basin, a normally windy canyon on the backside of Snowbird known for its expert terrain, Jones said.
Jones said it was routine for pilots in train to land in difficult areas regardless of weather conditions to prepare for combat. He did not provide information on the cause of the crash but said efforts were underway to investigate the incident remove the damaged equipment from the mountainside.
"We do train on the edge so that we're ready for a combat environment anywhere in the world. The crews assume some level of risk. Every time you go fly a helicopter, there's a little bit of danger involved. I'm just happy everyone is OK," he said.
The crash comes about a year after two similar helicopter crashes. In January 2021, a UH-60 Blackhawk crashed during a training exercise and killed three in New York. The following month, a similar crash killed three in Boise, Idaho.
Joseph Schafer, a 23-year-old from Provo, Utah said the boom of the crash sounded similar to the blast noise from the explosives ski patrols set off to control and prevent avalanches.
Snowbird is known as one of the United States' premier ski and snowboard destinations because of ample snowfall and the variety of terrain.