Two dead following Navy helicopter crash off Va. Beach

Two dead following Navy helicopter crash off Va. Beach

Two dead following Navy helicopter crash off Va. Beach

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by WVEC

WVEC

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 2:12 PM

 

UPDATE 1/9: New assets responding to the search Thursday morning, according to Va. Beach Fire and Rescue:
A regional maritime response vehicle that’s housed/maintained in Va. Beach to serve as a mobile command boat; Fireboat 1 out of Lynnhaven Marina; Va. Beach police boat with side-scan sonar. The 40-foot Metal Shark is a full climate control year-around vessel. Police tell WVEC.com it carries a crew of 4 with additional personnel capabilities.
"They will be utilizing our High-Definition Towed Side-Scan SONAR. This SONAR has the capabilities of providing High-Definition real time video of the ocean floor," explained MPO Tonya Borman.
Coast Guard Cutter Shearwater and Navy helicopters searched through the night for the missing crewman.

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UPDATE 1/8 9:15 p.m:  Coast Guard assisting in search; releases pictures of crash site and search off the coast of Va. Beach.
An accident investigation board has been convened to determine why the Norfolk-based MH-53E Sea Dragon went down Wednesday.

UPDATE 1/8 7:15 p.m.:  A second crewman has died following the crash. 
Two crew members remain hospitalized at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. One is listed in serious condition and the other has been upgraded to fair condition.

The search for the fifth crew member is continuing throughout the night.

Officials say Virginia Beach Fire Department boats have located the aircraft fuselage and tail section using their side-scan radar.

Other units assisting the U.S. Coast Guard 87-foot patrol boat Shearwater in the search and rescue operations include the Guided Missile Destroyer USS Jason Dunham, the salvage vessel USNS Grasp, the Amphibious Transport Dock ship USS Mesa Verde, and the dry cargo ship USNS Medgar Evans.

Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Two from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek Fort Story dive boats, manned with Navy divers, are also on scene.

MH-60s helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadrons two and 28 also assisted in the search effort.

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VIRGINIA BEACH -- The Navy says one of four crewmembers rescued when a military helicopter went down in the Atlantic off Virginia Beach has died.

Four people were rescued and one person remains missing following an emergency water landing of an MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter off Cape Henry Wednesday.

More information here

The helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen (HM-14) based at Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field, went down around 11 a.m.

Four of the crewmembers were found close to the floating wreckage, officials said. 

A Navy helicopter hoisted them from the water within an hour of the crash and transported them to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.  Two are in stable condition and one is in surgery, Captain Todd Flannery, Commander of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, said.  The identity of the dead crewman has not been released. 

Capt. Flannery said family and support personnel are at the hospital. 

The Coast Guard explained how the four were rescued.

“Two Navy helos on scene dropped a raft, recovered the four and took them to the hospital,” said  PO1 John Miller.

Read more from the Coast Guard here

Chris Kishbaugh saw the four crewmembers getting taken off the military helicopter at Sentara Norfolk General.

"As soon as the helicopter touched ground, crews immediately hopped out of the helicopter, requesting for people to give them a hand- stretchers and things like that," he said.  "A lot of the military gentlemen were hopping out of the helicopter, running towards the hospital and requesting things. Others were staying with the helicopter, opening up doors and getting them prepped out," Kishbaugh said. 

Kishbaugh said one of the crewmembers didn't appear to be moving. 

"The first gentleman that came out, he really didn't look all that in great of shape, they had him all bundled up.  I imagine they were wet at some point. He wasn't moving very much. There wasn't much movement out of him at all," Kishbaugh said. 

Navy officials said the MH-53E Sea Dragon was conducting routine training operations when it went down. 

The crew consisted of two pilots and three air crewman.

The search continues for the fifth crewmember. Officials said currents and winds are affecting the wreckage. 

Officials said the 87-foot patrol boat Shearwater out of Portsmouth and two boats from Station Little Creek,  a 25-foot response boat small and a 45-foot response boat medium, responded.

Dave Wydert with the USCG says Shearwater was about 2 nautical miles away from the helicopter when it went down.  The crew didn't see the crash but heard it and began an immediate search of the area. 

The Shearwater is equipped with smaller rigid-hull inflatable boats that have “inline” motors and those RHIBs slide out of the back of the Cutter into the water.  The RHIBs would be used as additional search assets.

Virginia Beach fireboats 1 and 12 are also assisting the military, officials said.

13News Now Meteorologist Evan Stewart says the water temperature is about 40 degrees and the air temperature 30 degrees.

Capt. Flannery said he had no comment about the safety of the helicopter.  The cause of the crash remains under investigation. 

News of the crash has 13News Now viewers going to our Facebook page to voice concerns about the situation.

Bev Caruso wrote, “Prayers go to the families and the crew members, hope the person missing is found shortly “

“My heart aches for them all,” wrote Cheryl Lewis.

Judy Peterson said, “My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved. Praying the 5th member is rescued quickly and that the 4 already pulled out of the water make a full recovery. Prayers also to those that are involved in the rescue itself. I have the utmost respect for the Coastguard and and all our military! They do an excellent job and sometimes a very dangerous one!!!!”

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