Two Air Force officers impeached over negligence in Black Hawk crash

CNA file photo courtesy of the Yilan County Fire Bureau, Jan. 2, 2020

TAIPEI (CNA) — The Control Yuan announced Tuesday that it has impeached two military personnel for negligence in weather reporting that was partly responsible for a Black Hawk helicopter crash in January that resulted in the deaths of eight military officers, including the nation’s top military commander, Chief of the General Staff Shen Yi-ming (沈一鳴).

The government watchdog agency said it passed a motion to impeach Jen I-wei (任亦偉), chief of the weather center at the Air Force Weather Wing’s No. 8 Base; and Chou Shih-kai (周士凱), an officer at the same center.

The decision to impeach Jen was passed by an 8-1 vote while that of Chou was passed 6-3, according to the Control Yuan.

The cases will now be handed over to the Judicial Yuan’s Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission for a decision on what punishment they should receive.

More details on the cases will be officially announced by the Control Yuan at a press event to be held Wednesday, it added.

A source familiar with the impeachment decision told CNA that the two men were impeached due to their negligence in reporting the weather and noted that their failure was in part responsible for the fatal crash.

CNA file photo courtesy of the National Fire Agency Jan. 2, 2020

The UH-60M helicopter, carrying 13 military personnel to a base in Dong’ao, Yilan County for a pre-Lunar New Year inspection, went down in the mountains of New Taipei’s Wulai District on Jan. 2. Eight of the passengers, including Shen, died in the crash.

An initial investigative report on the incident released February ruled out mechanical failure as the cause of the crash.

Instead it found that the crash was most likely caused by a combination of human factors and a sudden weather change in the mountains.

According to the Air Force, the pilot tried to pull up for visibility when he flew into cloud cover that formed suddenly in the area before the chopper crashed into the mountains.

The Air Force previously punished five senior Air Force officers, including an Air Force commander and deputy commander over the crash.

The Control Yuan later launched its own probe over the incident.

The seven other fatalities were Political Warfare Bureau Deputy Director Maj. Gen. Yu Chin-wen (于親文), Maj. Gen. Hung Hung-chun (洪鴻鈞) of the Office of the Deputy Chief of the General Staff for Intelligence, Maj. Huang Sheng-hang (黃聖航) of the Office of the Chief of the General Staff, Chief Master Sergeant Han Cheng-hung (韓正宏), chopper pilot Lt. Col. Yeh Chien-yi (葉建儀), co-pilot Capt. Liu Chen-fu (劉鎮富), and Crew Chief Master Sergeant Hsu Hung-pin (許鴻彬).

A final probe is scheduled to be completed in January 2021, the Air Force said.