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Sun, Jan 28, 2007

At Least One Lost In Navy Helo Crash Off CA Coast

Search And Rescue Ops Underway For Three Missing Crewmembers

A search-and-rescue operation was underway Saturday to locate three missing sailors following the crash of a Navy MH-60S Friday, 50 miles off the California coast. A fourth sailor died while being treated on the USS Bonhomme Richard, after being pulled alive from the water, the Navy said.

The Navy was operating on the assumption that the crew members might still be alive, Lt. Cmdr. Elizabeth Meydenbauer said Saturday to the Associated Press.

The search operation near San Clemente Island included inflatable boats, two destroyers, a guided missile cruiser, a dock landing ship and Coast Guard ships, Meydenbauer said. Coast Guard and Navy aircraft were also being used.

The MH-60S helicopter (type shown above), based at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, went down around 5:30 pm EST Friday. The helicopter, based at Naval Air Station North Island, was on a training mission when it crashed at 2:45 pm, according to Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jack Hanzlik.

The pilot radioed a mayday... but gave no further indications of mechanical malfunctions or fire.

Identities of the helicopter crew members would not be released until relatives were notified.

"It's a sad time whenever we lose shipmates like this, so our hearts and prayers go out to the families," said Hanzlik.

FMI: www.navy.mil, www.sikorsky.com

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