National Guard Members, Border Agent Killed in Crash

National Guard Members, Border Agent Killed in Crash

( – A Border Patrol agent and two members of New York’s National Guard are dead after their helicopter crashed near the Mexican border in Texas.

The incident occurred on March 9 in La Grulla, TX, about 15 miles from Rio Grande City. The chopper went down just before 3pm during a mission to support the Border Patrol. Details have not been released on the nature of the mission or the cause of the crash, which remains under investigation. However, officials did confirm that it was part of Operation Lone Star, Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s controversial mission to help secure his state’s border with Mexico. Officials believe the investigation could take months.

John M. Grassia III, 30, who also served as a New York State Trooper, died at the scene. The New York State Trooper’s Benevolent Association described Grassia as a man who was passionate about protecting his home state of New York and the United States as a whole. He joined the National Guard in 2013 and specialized in maintaining UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Casey Frankoski, a 28-year-old pilot from Rensselaer, NY, was flying the helicopter when it crashed. She enlisted in 2016. She attended Columbia High School before studying at Schenectady Community College. Her father previously served as the police chief for Rensselaer. She was previously deployed to Kuwait in 2019. The helicopter she was piloting had been assigned to Washington DC’s National Guard.

Chris Luna, the 49-year-old Border Patrol agent killed during the crash, was a husband and father of two. Troy Miller, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner, said in a statement that his agency felt “heartbroken” over his death and the deaths of the National Guard members.

A fourth National Guardsman working as the crew chief sustained serious injuries during the crash and was still hospitalized on March 10. Officials have not released an identity. Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary for Homeland Security, said his agency hopes the remaining guardsman recovers swiftly, according to Fox News.

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