Wednesday, February 29, 2012

United States Coast Guard confirms one person dead in helicopter crash

POINT CLEAR, Ala. (WALA) - The United States Coast Guard confirmed a MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter with four Coast Guard members aboard had crashed at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday two to three miles from Point Clear.

The Coast Guard released a press release at 3:20 a.m. Wednesday saying that the one of the Coast Guard crew members had been found and had died from the crash.

Spokesperson Petty Officer Second Class Elizabeth Bordelon said the helicopter was on a mission out of Mobile.

According to the New Orleans USCG, two response boats small (RBS) are on scene, one from Dauphin Island and one from Pensacola along with two MH-65C Dolphin Helicopters from New Orleans and one MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter from Mobile.

Officials also said the Coast Guard Cutter Cobia boat on scene and crews from multiple agencies have setup a command center at Brookley Field in Mobile. They said they are doing everything they can to find the three missing Coast Guard crew members.

“We have some dive support folks to help us to the degree we have to go under the water. We have Coast Guard vessels out searching the surface of the water as well as other vessels. Were going to continue to search, were going to continue to go down. We know where the wreckage is so were going to look there as well,” said Captain Don Rose, Commander, Sector Mobile.

Rose said the missing individuals are trained to survive in the event of a crash.

"These are trained Coast Guard pilots and crew; very well outfitted with survival gear wearing cold weather exposure suits. So yes, they are very well prepared with survival gear, and they train to survive in the event of a helicopter crash,” Rose said.

Rose said the crash happened during a training exercise.

"They were doing training exercises in the bay with a couple of boats. We had communication with the helicopter and the regular communication check we didn't have them so immediately began to try and locate them," he said.

According to the New Orleans USCG, Mobile and New Orleans are communicating through conference calls.

According to officials, Mobile Fire & Rescue Department is assisting the USCG with the crash. Officials said the USCG has requested assistance from Mobile Fire & Rescue Department Fireboat2.

The National Weather Service in Mobile has issued a dense fog advisory is currently in effect for the Mobile Bay and Coastal areas.

"Until now, it has been more in patches, but as the night moves on we expect the density to increase," said a spokesperson for National Weather Service Mobile. "Right now, visibility has been going up and down, with patchy fog. The worst of the fog will settle in pretty solid by about 2 a.m. and start to break up 8-9 am. The visibility right now is less than 1 mile, but we do expect it to get down to a quarter mile or less before the night is out."

A HH-65C Dolphin is twin-engine, single main rotor, MEDEVAC-capable Search and Rescue helicopter operated by the USCG.

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