Ind. native among 4 killed in UK helicopter crash

Tech Sgt. Dale Mathews from LaPorte County

LONDON - An Indiana native was among four U.S. Air Force crewmen killed in a helicopter crash Tuesday.

Tech Sgt. Dale Mathews, a graduate of Rolling Prairie High School in Rolling Prairie, Ind., died when his Pave Hawk helicopter slammed into the eastern coast of the United Kingdom during a low-level training mission.

Pave Hawks -- a modified version of the better-known Black Hawks -- are mostly used for combat search and rescue missions, mainly to recover downed air crew members or other personnel during war and other hostile situations. They typically practice flying low and fast, often at altitudes of hundreds, rather than thousands, of feet.

The helicopter plummeted into the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve. The aircraft was based at the nearby Royal Air Force station in Lakenheath.

Residents near the crash site said the helicopter sounded unusual just before the accident took place. Sue McKnespiey, who runs the Cookies crab shop in Salthouse with her husband Peter, said the helicopter came over very fast and very low.

"I don't know about engines but I am used to the sound of helicopters and this sounded very heavy and very unusual," she said. "My gut instinct was there was something wrong."

The aircraft was assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing.

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