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Five Americans Among Twelve Killed in U.N. Helicopter Crash

By Lee Hockstader
The Washington Post
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

A United Nations helicopter flying in dense fog crashed into a mountainside in central Bosnia today, killing all 12 passengers, including a high-ranking German mediator and at least five Americans - one of them deputy chief of the team working to rebuild Bosnia's civilian police forces.

The four members of the Ukrainian crew survived by climbing through the shattered plexiglass nose of the aircraft, but they were unable to rescue any of the passengers because of fire and thick smoke, U.N. officials said.

The German mediator, Gerd Wagner, was one of two senior deputies to Carlos Westendorp, the top international representative here trying to implement the Dayton peace accords, which ended Bosnia's 1992-95 three-way factional conflict.

A highly respected and well-liked diplomat, Wagner, 55, was a political officer at the German Embassy in Washington until he was sent to Bosnia this summer. He spoke Serbo-Croatian and was playing a key role trying to reconcile Muslims with Croats in central Bosnia.

The police unit official was identified as retired FBI agent David J. Kriskovich, 56, deputy director of the International Police Task Force in Bosnia since early this year. Relatives said Kriskovich, who lived in Spotsylvania County, Va., had been an FBI agent for more than 20 years before retiring in 1994. During his bureau service, they said, he was instrumental in establishing the Justice Department's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, which is designed to help stabilize emerging foreign democracies by improving their criminal justice systems.

Another retired FBI agent was also listed among the dead. He was identified as Al Beccaccio, 58, who relatives said was a close friend and neighbor of Kriskovich's. The names of the others who died in the crash - all of them Americans or Europeans - were withheld pending notification of their families. In addition to Wagner and the five Americans, they included four Germans, one Pole and one Briton.

Among them were five members of Westendorp's Office of the High Representative; five active or retired law enforcement officers associated with the police task force; one staffer from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and one international mediator dealing with refugee issues.