Victims identified in New Mexico helicopter crash after fighting wildfires

Authorities have identified three police officers and a firefighter who were killed in a helicopter crash while returning to Albuquerque from helping with wildfires in New Mexico.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a Facebook update that those killed in the crash were Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison and County Fire and Rescue Department Specialist Matthew King.

A spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration initially said the fatal crash occurred at 10 a.m. Saturday, but later sheriff’s officials said the helicopter crashed at 7:20 p.m., about 123 miles from its final destination, Albuquerque.

The investigation into the crash is in its early stages, but the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are assisting in the investigation, both agencies confirmed to CNN and the New Mexico State Police.

Authorities have confirmed that there were no survivors from the Bell UH-1H helicopter crash.

Left to right: Rescue Specialist Matthew King, Deputy Michael Levison, Undersheriff Larry Koren and Lt. Fred Beers were all killed in a helicopter crash while fighting wildfires in the Las Vegas area.

(Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office)

The four men were responding Saturday to help neighboring fire departments put out wildfires in the Las Vegas area, including bucket drops and air logistics support for other crews on the ground.

In the comments under the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office’s latest Facebook update, people started paying tribute to the first responders who died as their identities became known.

Undersheriff Koren In 2022, he was recognized for his New Year’s Day rescue of 19 workers from TEN 3 (a restaurant at the top of the Sandia Peak Tramway) and the tram operator. The night before New Year’s Eve.

“You always had a smile and so much passion for your work…I enjoyed watching all the live streams of you rescuing people,” Shannon Healy wrote under the news confirming Koren’s death in the helicopter crash. “You will truly be missed.. Thank you Letty Beers, Deputy Levison and Firefighter King for your service to this community, you all will never be forgotten,” she added.


Lt. Beers, who helped save the tramway in the New Year, thanked a woman for her kindness in the incident.

“You gave my daughter a BCSO t-shirt, patch, and challenge coin for her 2nd birthday,” Michael Montoya wrote on TheThird, sharing a photo of the young officer handing the shirt to his son. “You were so kind that day. Sending so many thoughts to your family.

Deputy Levison was remembered in many comments as a “hero” and a “kind and loving soul,” as Lifeguard Specialist King described the occasions when friends, family, co-workers and members of the community saved him. The lives of close people.

“My cousin, Matt was such a kind hearted soul. He was everyone’s friend, and one of the kindest people I knew. Words cannot express the sorrow that Maria Dow wrote; She described how the lifeguard, who I barely knew, saved her own mother-in-law many years ago and was forever remembered by her family as a “true American hero.” .

“When I had a heart attack years ago you came and saved him, because of you he is still with us. And you comforted us through all that horror. You are a true American hero and the world has lost a great man, writes Steve Bennett.

In a statement following news of the tragedy, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was “heartbroken” by the loss of life in her state over the weekend.

“While we await more details on the investigation, my office will provide any support and assistance to the Sheriff’s Office and the county. State resources will be fully available to assist the investigation.

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