Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
A French soldier has fallen to his death from a helicopter while taking part in search and rescue exercises.
Sergeant Pierre Pougin, a helicopter rescue diver from the 1/67 Pyrenees helicopter squadron, died during a training flight on 29th April.
The French Air Force said on Facebook: “He died while on airborne duty during an air-land winching exercise.”
A medic from the Army Medical Corps was also seriously injured and was taken care of by rescue services, according to reports.
The fatal accident took place during a search and rescue training exercise in Biscarrosse in the department of Landes in New Aquitaine in south-western France.
The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, said: “The two soldiers fell to the ground in circumstances that have yet to be established”.
A source close to the case mentioned “a tethering problem” and a “very high fall” involving both men.
The French Air Force said: “Sergeant Pierre Pougin joined the Air Force as a mechanic on 15th October 2013.
“He was first posted on a Fennec helicopter at Orange Air Base 115 before passing the demanding Air Force helicopter rescue diver tests.
“He obtained his helicopter rescue diver certificate on 1st May, 2019. He was assigned to Helicopter Squadron 1/67 on 20th May 2019 and completed his training to become an operational helicopter rescue diver.
“Sergeant Pougin held the National Defence Medal Bronze Echelon. He was single and had no children.”
Reacting to the news, General Philippe Lavigne, Chief of the Air Force, said: “It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Sergeant Pierre Pougin, who died during an air training mission.
“On behalf of all Airmen, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, loved ones and comrades. I assure them of the Air Force’s full support in this ordeal.
“My thoughts also go out to the seriously wounded Army Medical Officer.”
On 15th April, two soldiers were killed and five wounded in the accident during a training flight of an aircraft of the 5th Combat Helicopter Regiment from Pau on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, the media reports.
The aircraft had crashed in a farm in the heart of a hilly and wooded area before catching fire. No details of the investigation have been released since.
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