WEST BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Families across Baton Rouge are mourning the loss of two officers who were killed in a Sunday morning helicopter crash.
The craft landed in a rural area of West Baton Rouge’s Erwinville and some locals said they heard the crash.
One resident, Norris Cummings, says he’s lived off North Winterville Road for 40 years. He explained that he was sound asleep when he suddenly heard a “big bang” around 1:30 a.m.
He believes the crash was connected to a police pursuit that was unfolding along the highway.
“First thing I heard was a speeding car, it seemed like it was 190, heading west,” Cummings said. “When the bang went off, I got out of my bed, grabbed my flashlight, and walked up and down my driveway, I kind of knew it was back in that area, but I didn’t want to come out of my gate.”
Authorities have not confirmed that a police pursuit was in progress at the time of the crash.
In any case, dozens of law enforcement vehicles and other first responders rushed to the crash site to assist. Cummings says he saw a BRPD helicopter just yards away from his home.
A few doors down, another resident spoke to BRProud about the wreck, Kaylum Shaffer.
According to Shaffer, this marked the first time an incident of this magnitude has happened in the area.
‘I’ve never seen that many cops go down that road,” Shaffer said. “Usually, you only see about two or three.”
Local couple Earl and Lawanda Wheeler said they’d just arrived home from church when they learned what happened, and it shocked them.
“To think that something right here in our community,” Wheeler said, “something like this has happened.”
The couple told BRProud that they have two sons who are officers with Baker Police Department. They said they pray every day that their children come home safely, and it breaks their hearts to know this won’t be the case for the families of the officers who were killed in Sunday’s crash.
“You just never know, and this is just one of those sad occasions,” Lawanda Wheeler said, “that unfortunately, we have two who won’t be going back home.”
Shortly after the fatal crash was announced, the Mayor’s Office released a statement, which is available to read below.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said BRPD will not release the names of the fallen officers until their family members have been appropriately notified.
He also asked that the community keep the department and the families of the officers in their prayers.
The incident is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Association.