1 dead, 1 missing following Navy helicopter crash in Va. Beach

4:29 PM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (WVEC) -- Four people were rescued and one person remains missing following an emergency water landing of an MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter off Virginia Beach Wednesday.

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

Officials said a Navy helicopter rescued four from the water around 11:45 a.m. and transported them to Norfolk Sentara General Hospital. Their condition is unknown.

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 crewmembersdidn'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 search continues for the fifth crewmember.

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 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 6 and 12 are also assisting the military, officials said.

UPDATE: One crewmember that had been transported to the hospital has died from his injuries, officials said. Three crew members are still being evaluated at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Their condition is unknown. The search for the fifth crewmember continues.

FMI: http://www.wvec.com/


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