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2 National Guard members and Border Patrol agent are killed in Texas helicopter crash

New York Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski, left, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia, right.
New York National Guard
New York Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski, left, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia, right.

Updated March 10, 2024 at 5:53 PM ET

Two Army National Guard soldiers and a Border Patrol agent were killed in a helicopter crash along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Friday, military officials said. One soldier survived but remains in critical condition.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski, Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia, and Border Patrol agent Chris Luna died while flying a UH-72 Lakota helicopter as part of the federal government's border security operations. The crash occurred mid-afternoon near Rio Grande City in Starr County.

Frankoski, 28, from Rensselaer, N.Y., and Grassia, 30, from Schenectady, N.Y., both belonged to the New York National Guard, as did the injured soldier, who was an aircraft crew chief.

The National Guard Bureau said it did not release the name of the injured crew chief due to "privacy regulations."

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

On Sunday, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, said the bureau was mourning the deaths of Grassia, Frankoski and Luna.

"We are all shocked and devastated by the loss of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Grassia, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frankoski, while serving along the U.S. border in Texas," he said in a statement. "We are praying for the quick recovery of the crew chief who was injured in the crash. Our deepest condolences also go out to the family and friends of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who was also killed."

Customs and Border Protection acting commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement that the agency is "heartbroken by the devastating loss" of Luna, who he said is survived by his wife and two children, parents and brother.

President Biden said he sends his condolences to the victims' families.

"As we investigate the circumstances of this crash, we continue to stand with our service members, border agents, and their families, whose contributions to our nation are vital to our security," he said in a statement on Saturday.

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the bureau is mourning over the passengers killed.

"They are a tragic loss beyond words. We pray for the speedy recovery of a third Guard Soldier who was seriously injured," Hokanson said.

In January, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter crasheddue to a loss of power while patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border. The co-pilot suffered a minor hand injury, the department said at the time.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juliana Kim
Juliana Kim is a weekend reporter for Digital News, where she adds context to the news of the day and brings her enterprise skills to NPR's signature journalism.

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