Maryland Soldier Dies in Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

Captain Sara Knutson, 27, of Eldersburg was one of the five soldiers who died in the crash, according to the Department of Defense.

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    A Maryland woman was one of several people who died during a helicopter crash in Afghanistan back on Monday, March 11.

    A U.S. official said the helicopter went down outside Kandahar city, the capital of Kandahar province. Captain Sara Knutson, 27, of Eldersburg was one of the five soldiers who died in the crash, according to the Department of Defense. The NATO military coalition said in a statement that "initial reports" showed no enemy activity in the area at the time. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the statement said.

    Officials say Knutson was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Company Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. She along with the four other victims were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

    Their deaths make 12 U.S. troops killed so far this year in Afghanistan. There were 297 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan in 2012, according to an Associated Press tally.

    It was the deadliest crash since August, when a U.S. military helicopter crashed during a firefight with insurgents in a remote area of Kandahar. Seven Americans and four Afghans died in that crash.

    Kutson was a 2003 graduate of Liberty High School and a 2007 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, according to the Baltimore Sun. The Baltimore Sun reports that she was the first person from Maryland killed in Afghanistan this year.