1 dead in Navy helicopter accident off Virginia

Posted at 10:06 AM, Jan 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-08 15:10:00-05

By Tom Watkins

(CNN) — One person died and another was missing after a Navy helicopter carrying a crew of five made an emergency water landing off Virginia Beach during a routine training operation, the Navy said Wednesday.

The fatality appeared to have been among the four crew members of the MH-53E Sea Dragon who were rescued and taken to a hospital with unspecified injuries.

None of the crew members have been identified.

After the incident was reported at approximately 11 a.m., another Navy air crew dropped a life raft to the people in the water, Coast Guard spokesman Nyx Cangemi said.

About 45 minutes later, four people were hoisted from the water and taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

“I saw a big Navy helicopter land here and it landed really quick and fast,” Chris Goetz told CNN affiliate WAVY at the hospital. “They took two guys in on the stretchers and immediately took back off and came back maybe five minutes later and had two more guys all on stretchers.”

The Navy said in a prepared statement that the Coast Guard cutter Shearwater and two MH-60S helicopters were conducting a search-and-rescue effort for the missing person near Fort Story.

The air temperature was 28 degrees and the water temperature was 41 degrees, with 1- to 2-foot seas, said Cangemi.

An investigation is under way.

The helicopter was assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen (HM-14), which is based at Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field.

The MH-53E Sea Dragon carries no weapons. It has two pilots and a crew of one to six, depending on its mission, according to the Navy. There were 31 of the aircraft in operation, it said. Its role includes anti-mine operations.

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