UPDATED: Two Dead, One Missing in Navy Helicopter Crash
Update: The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard continue to search for a fifth sailor who has been missing since yesterday when a Navy MH-53 crashed during a routine training exercise.
Four crew members were immediately rescued by a second Sea Dragon which was also participating in the exercise, but two sailors died later at the hospital.
Photos provided by the U.S. Coast Guard. Video provided by WAVY10.
A routine training mission turned into an actual rescue by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard when a Navy helicopter made a forced landing on the frigid waters of the Atlantic just north of Virgina Beach on Tuesday.
A local newspaper and other media are reporting one crew member is missing while four others have reportedly been taken to a nearby hospital. However, other media are reporting one crew member was killed and one remains missing.
The Virginian-Pilot © January 8, 2014
The Coast Guard, Navy and the Virginia Beach Fire Department are searching for one missing crewmember after a Navy helicopter made an emergency landing in the Atlantic about 18 nautical miles east of Cape Henry.
Four crewmembers were rescued, and Navy spokesman Cmdr. Mike Kafka said they were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Their conditions were not known.
Kafka said two MH-53 Sea Dragons belonging to the HM-14, a helicopter squadron based at Norfolk Naval Station, were on a training mission. One of the helicopters had to make an emergency landing into the water at approximately 11 a.m.
The second helicopter dropped a raft into the water and two of the crew members made it into the raft. The water temperature is about 42 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
The Coast Guard cutter Shearwater was located nearby and made its way to the scene, as did a second Coast Guard rescue boat from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.
It was not clear whether the four crew members were rescued by the cutter or the accompanying helicopter, Kafka said.
The Shearwater and two MH-60S helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 28 are conducting the search and rescue.
At the Norfolk hospital, Chris Geotz said he saw the large Navy helicopter land twice outside the hospital and drop off two crew members at a time.
"They came in fast, that’s why I noticed,” said Geotz, an electrician who was working at the facility. “They started screaming. The first person was unconscious and his arms were dangling. The second person had his hands bandaged and his face was burned, but at least he held his hands up.”
The helicopter then took off quickly, he said, and appeared to return with two more crew members who both appeared to be conscious and also were on gurneys.