HOUSTON – One officer was killed, and the other officer is in critical condition after a Houston Police Department helicopter crashed early Saturday in an apartment complex in north Houston, according to local officials.
Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo identified Jason Knox, 35, as the tactical flight officer involved in the crash and later died at the hospital. He was the son of Houston councilmember at-large Mike Knox.
Acevedo said Jason Knox was a "good man.”
“If someone would have told me, a few hours later, we would have an aircraft down,” Acevedo said. “We would lose a really good man. I would have said no way.”
Knox had been with the police department for eight and half years and had been with their air unit for one year and three months,
It is with heavy hearts we mourn the loss of @houstonpolice Tactical Flight Officer Jason Knox.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) May 2, 2020
Our thoughts & prayers go out to his wife, two young children, his parents, @MikeKnox1Hou and Mrs. Knox, his extended family, colleagues & friends. pic.twitter.com/5h8SfzXJX5
HPD also asked for prayers for senior police officer Chase Cormier, 35, who was airlifted to Memorial Hermann hospital and went into surgery Saturday morning. Acevedo said the pilot was “very banged up." At a news briefing Saturday afternoon, Acevedo said Cormier was out of surgery and conscious.
Cormier broke his back and sustained other injuries in the crash, his wife Brooke Cormier wrote in a Facebook post.
“We are going to have a long, hard road of rehab ahead of us in hopes of getting him to walk but if anyone can get through this, it’s him,” Brooke wrote in the post.
According to HPD, Cormier was sworn in as an HPD officer in July 2006. He is currently assigned to the Air & Marine Divison. Cormier has been with the air support unit for three years.
During a news conference at the Texas Medical Center, Mayor Sylvester Turner called it a bad morning.
“I ask for the city of Houston to continue to lift up both families, especially lift up the family of the police officer that has died... At the same time, lift up the entire HPD family."
Please continue to keep the pilot in today’s crash in your prayers.— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) May 2, 2020
Senior Police Officer Chase Cormier, 35, was sworn in as a HPD officer in July 2006.
He is currently assigned to the Air & Marine Division.
No condition update is currently available.
Here is what happened
The HPD crash was reported at about 2 a.m. at the Biscayne At Cityview Apartment complex located at 17050 Imperial Valley Drive, near the Greenspoint neighborhood.
According to Acevedo, the two officers were in the 75 Fox helicopter from the Houston Police Department’s Air Operations Unit and were investigating reports of bodies floating in a bayou.
“They responded right before 2 a.m. and within minutes we got reports from the Houston Forensic Science Center crime scene unit that was working a murder scene at the 17000 block of Imperial Valley that our helicopter had gone down,” Acevedo said.
Officials from the Houston Fire Department, the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office all rushed to the scene, Acevedo said.
The pilot and the co-pilot were trapped in the wreckage for a while as crews worked to get them out.
Tragic helicopter crash at this apartment complex on Imperial valley. Crews are working to clear the wreck this afternoon. The crash didn’t injure any residents. However, it sent two officers to the hospital. Beloved HPD Officer Jason Knox did not survive. Rest In Peace💔@KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/58xycEnsxj— KPRC2 Rose-Ann Aragon (@KPRC2RoseAnn) May 2, 2020
Firefighters “worked feverishly to extricate and cut the pilots out. They literally had to cut the pilots out of the wreckage,” Acevedo said.
Once freed, the officers were airlifted to Memorial Hermann hospital for treatment and both were in critical condition with serious injuries, Acevedo said.
“The wreckage was pretty significant,” Acevedo said. “There were no flames involved and that’s been a blessing. And the silver lining. The other silver lining was the pilot was able to avoid the apartment buildings."
None of the residents of the apartment complex were injured in the crash.
“They were able to avoid going into the actual apartment buildings where people were sleeping and were able to, basically, they clipped a part of the clubhouse,” Acevedo said.
The injured pilot and technical flight officer’s families were picked up and rushed to the hospital.
The investigation into the HPD helicopter crash will be extensive, according to Acevedo.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Agency will conduct investigations, along with the Houston Police Department. In a briefing Saturday afternoon, Acevedo said the joint investigation could take weeks, if not months.
HPD will approach the crash as a homicide investigation.
“We have lost one of our own," Acevedo said. "We won’t leave any stone unturned as part of our investigation until the cause of this crash. We will look at it from a criminal standpoint to make sure there was no criminal activity that led to this tragic incident.”
Acevedo said the department was going to shut down flights until further notice as a precautionary measure as investigations continue. Meanwhile, HPD will get flight support from the Department of Public Safety and the Harris County Air Operations Division.
At about 3 a.m., while police were at the crash site, Acevedo said that shots rang out across the street and six suspects were taken into custody. Acevedo said this was a separate incident that was unrelated to the crash.
To donate to the Knox and Cormier families, visit assisttheofficer.com.
Here is the latest update on the HPD helicopter crash:
Mayor Turner, Chief Acevedo provide update during afternoon briefing:
🔴LIVE: Mayor Turner will answer questions about this morning’s deadly helicopter crash and provide a COVID-19 update.Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Saturday, May 2, 2020
KPRC 2 reporter Taisha Walker provides an update from the scene:
An HPD officer was killed in a helicopter crash this morning while responding to a call in the Greenspoint area. KPRC2 Taisha Walker joins us from the scene with a look at the investigation underway.Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Saturday, May 2, 2020
KPRC 2 reporter Joel Eisenbaum provides an update from the Texas Medical Center:
HPD officer killed in HPD Helicopter crashPosted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Saturday, May 2, 2020
Watch KPRC 2 chopper above the scene of the HPD helicopter crash:
Watch HPD escorts fallen officer from the hospital to the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences:
Watch HPD Chief Acevedo and Mayor Turner provides an updated after 2 officers hurt in HPD helicopter crash:
WATCH LIVE; Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, Mayor Sylvester Turner gives update on HPD helicopter crash that left two officers critically injured. MORE: https://www.click2houston.com/news/local/2020/05/02/2-officers-injured-when-hpd-helicopter-crashes-in-north-houston/Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Saturday, May 2, 2020
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.