USN Suspends Rescue Efforts, Names Sailors Killed in Helicopter Crash

  • Jan 10, 2014 5:55pm GMT
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The Virginian Pilot offers more details on the halted search for the sailor missing since Wednesday's crash of a Navy MH-53 Sea Dragon.

By Dianna Cahn Mike Hixenbaugh The Virginian-Pilot © January 10, 2014

The Navy, citing poor weather conditions, paused dive operations this evening at the site where one of its helicopters crashed into the Atlantic Ocean earlier this week.

A small community of sailors and their loved ones struggled to cope with the deaths of at least two of their own Thursday, a day after an MH-53 Sea Dragon and its five-member crew went down in chilly coastal waters.

Capt. Todd Flannery appeared emotionally and physically drained as he revealed the names of the two fallen sailors during an afternoon news conference at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Wednesday after going down with their MH-53 about 18 miles east of Cape Henry.

Two other crew members were plucked from the frigid water by a Navy rescue helicopter. One left the hospital Thursday; the other continues to recover, said Flannery, the commander of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic.

At the same press briefing, the Coast Guard announced that it had ended its active rescue mission in search of a fifth crew member who remained missing. Late Thursday night, the Navy released the name of the missing sailor, Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, 39, of Santee, Calif.

The Coast Guard and Navy searched for 28 hours over more than 600 square miles before suspending the rescue operation, said Coast Guard Capt. John Little. Crews will continue working to recover wreckage and search for remains, he said.

“It was a very challenging decision to make,” Little said. “It was an exhaustive search.”

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