ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has confirmed all three crew members aboard a UH 60 Black Hawk Helicopter that crashed near Marty in rural Stearns County have died.

The names of the three people who died have not been released, pending notification of their family members.

Walz said during a news conference on Thursday night at the Holy Cross School in Marty, 'the state of Minnesota will forever be in the debt of these soldiers".

As Governor, Walz is the Commander-in-Chief of the Minnesota National Guard.

The cause of the crash is preliminary at this time.

Stearns County Chief Deputy Dan Miller says the investigation is expected to continue for multiple days. Investigators from the Army Safety Center out of Fort Rucker, Alabama are on their way to Stearns county and are expected to arrive Friday.

Along with Stearns County emergency responders, Meeker County emergency crews also responded. It was a Minnesota State Patrol Helicopter that actually located the crash site.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Chief Deputy Dan Miller, Nation Guard's Sandy Best
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Chief Deputy Dan Miller, National  Guard's Sandy Best

The Minnesota National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter crashed in rural Stearns County about 16 miles southwest of St. Cloud after giving a Mayday signal at about 2:15 p.m.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar issued the following statement. 

“Today three brave Minnesota National Guard soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. I am deeply saddened, and their service to our state and our nation will never be forgotten. In Minnesota, we wrap our arms around our brave men and women who make such immense sacrifices to keep our nation strong and free. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of these brave service members and with the entire Minnesota National Guard community, at home and overseas.”

State Senator Jerry Relph of St. Cloud Tweeted out a message of support.

In this time of tragedy, my heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with our men and women of the Minnesota National Guard and their families, as well as the first responders on the scene right now.

This is a developing story - check back with WJON for more information.

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Watch a video about the National Guard Helicopter Base at the St. Cloud Airport.

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