Prentiss Co. EMA Director reflects on response to helicopter crash

Local agencies will hold a debriefing to look at things that went well and areas that need improvement

PRENTISS COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – It has been one week since a Mississippi National Guard helicopter crashed in a wooded area in Prentiss County claiming the lives of both soldiers on board.

While many agencies responded to the crash, the initial responsibility fell to the county’s emergency management director.

Prentiss County Emergency Management Director Bud Lindsey will always remember the events of February 23.

“We started receiving phone calls, approximately 1 thirty, about a helicopter in trouble, possibly going down,” Lindsey said.

From that moment, area first responders sprang into action. The first order of business was trying to find a way to the crash site, in a wooded area near Booneville.

“On the highway, we saw smoke in the woods. Everybody jumped out of their vehicles and ran through the woods. My scratches are healing up,” he said.

Lindsey said area first responders have learned a lot from the incident.

“After working with the military on this, we now know we have to play a bigger role than what we thought we did. Extinguish the fire, and whatever else to a certain point then the military takes over,” Lindsey said.

Lindsey said there are simply too many agencies involved, including numerous Volunteer Fire Departments to give credit to everyone. Still, he said a debriefing will happen soon, to look at responses and any improvements that can be made.

“We are going to sit down and talk about what we done and what we will do from this point forward,” he said.

Lindsey also emphasized the importance of never forgetting the sacrifice made by Chief Warrant Officers Bryan Andrew Zernek and Derek Joshua Abbott as reviews of the incident going forward.

Lindsey said this was the first crash of a military aircraft in the county.

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