Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter crashes off Virginia Beach coast; one person dead, another missing

8:56 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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Video: 1 dead, 1 missing in Navy chopper crash

File photo of an MH-53E. Courtesy: US Navy

 


 


UPDATE: A second crewmember has died after a Navy helicopter crashed off the coast of Virginia Beach on Wednesday.

Two crewmembers remain hospitalized at Sentara Norfolk General. One is listed in serious condition and the other has been upgraded to fair condition. 

Crews are still searching for the 5th person. 

Officials say they will not release the names of the deceased until 24 hours after the family has been notified. 

The crew members are all members of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen (HM-14) based at Norfolk Naval Station Chambers Field. 

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

Previous: VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WTKR/AP) -The U.S. Navy has confirmed one crewman is dead and another is still unaccounted for after a Navy helicopter went down Wednesday while conducting routine training operations off the Virginia Beach coast, approximately 18 miles from Cape Henry.

The U.S. Navy confirms that a MH-53E Sea Dragon from HM-14 (Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14) at Naval Station Norfolk is the helicopter involved.

The aircraft was performing routine airborne mine countermeasure training operations at the time of the crash.

The Navy says the helicopter was training with another MH-53E when it had to make an emergency water landing. A life raft was dropped by the other helicopter and a distress call was made at approximately 10:45 a.m.

According to Navy spokesman Mike Kafka, five people were on board the helicopter - two pilots and three air crew.

Two crew members were rescued at 11:25 a.m. Two more were rescued at 11:38 a.m. All four were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

The Navy announced shortly afterwards that one of the four is confirmed to be dead.

One crew member is still unaccounted for. Search efforts are ongoing.

In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the Navy said of the three surviving crew members, two are stable at the hospital while a third is in surgery for his injuries.

None of the crew have been identified. The Navy says the identity of the deceased crew member will not be released until 24 hours after the notification of next of kin.

Visuals were immediately on the crash site, but the Sea Dragon is a heavy aircraft and can easily be moved by ocean currents, making rescue efforts more difficult.

The water landing caused all electronic systems to go out, meaning searches can only be done using visuals and sonar scanners. Search efforts will continue after sunset.

The Coast Guard responded from Little Creek with a 25-foot response boat that carries 3-4 crew members and the Coast Guard cutter Shearwater was also dispatched to the scene with approximately 10 crew members on board.

According to the Navy, two MH-60S Navy helicopters from HSC-28 at Naval Station Norfolk, as well as the USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) also responded to assist with the search and rescue.

Several Virginia Beach Fire coats are also responding. They are coordinating with the Coast Guard to assist.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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