Search Suspended for Missing Sailor in Navy Helicopter Crash

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The search has been suspended for a U.S. Navy sailor missing after the crash of a MH-53E Sea Dragon off Virginia’s southern coast, a Coast Guard official said Thursday.

An image of an MH-53E Sea Dragon in the Arabian Gulf taken December 21, 2013. (Credit: U.S. Navy/Spec. Joe Bishop)

The search for the sailor lasted more than 30 hours and covered more than 500 square miles, Coast Guard Capt. John Little said.

At least two sailors have died and two were injured in the crash Wednesday about 20 miles east of Cape Henry.

The Navy has not identified the missing sailor. The dead were identified as Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, North Carolina, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, of Truckee, California.

The Navy helicopter and its five-person crew set off Wednesday morning from Norfolk to conduct “routine mine countermeasure operations,” said Capt. Todd Flannery, commander of the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, based in Norfolk.

The first apparent sign of trouble came about 10:45 a.m., when the aircraft’s crew issued a distress call.

It went down soon thereafter, with a second MH-53E Sea Dragon operating in the same area providing “immediate support,” according to Flannery.

The helicopter was assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 (HM-14), 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.

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