San Antonio/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on January 12, 2024
Texas DPS Helicopter Enforcing Governor Abbott's Operation Lone Star Crashes Near Border, Co-Pilot Injured Source: Unsplash/ David von Dieter

Disaster struck near the Texas-Mexico border Thursday night when a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter crashed during a routine border patrol, as part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's Operation Lone Star. According to U.S. News & World Report, the aircraft suffered "a total loss of power," necessitating an emergency landing in Kinney County, around 7:20 p.m.

 

 

The DPS helicopter, which was carrying a pilot and a co-pilot, was severely damaged upon impact after plunging into a rural area approximately 15 miles northeast of the border and 120 miles southwest of San Antonio as it engaged in Abbott's near $10 billion mission—testing federal immigration authority and employing controversial tactics including busing migrants to various cities and installing barriers along the Rio Grande. The co-pilot incurred a minor hand injury during the ordeal, while the condition of the pilot at the time was not immediately disclosed.

Following the abrupt grounding, Texas Highway Patrol personnel secured the scene awaiting the arrival of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators, as relayed by DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez in a statement found on FOX San Antonio. Notifying authorities swiftly, the event was reported to both the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), though neither had provided additional commentary by early Friday.

The DPS refrained from revealing further specifics pending the outcome of the NTSB's rigorous inquiry keen to unravel the cause behind the helicopter's dire power loss and secured landing, but the swift response of the crew in managing the crisis was commendable, highlighting the inherent risks of Operation Lone Star's border surveillance operations, which operate frequently under the cloak of night using night vision goggles. DPS affirmed a full cooperative stance with the ongoing investigation to ensure the absolute determination of all contributing factors to the accident.