US Navy Recovers Human Remains, Helicopter After August Crash in California

by Matthew Memrick
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The Navy recovered a helicopter and the remains of five people after an Aug. 31 Pacific Ocean crash, officials said Tuesday.

Fox News reported that the wrecked MH-60S helicopter contained two pilots and three sailors about 69 miles from San Diego.

The multipurpose HOS Bayou transported a salvage team to the helicopter’s location. Navy officials said they recovered the aircraft from 5,300 feet. Other attempts at recovering the aircraft started around Sept. 15.

The Bayou delivered the helicopter to Naval Station North Island in San Diego Bay on Sunday. The five servicemembers’ remains went to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification. 

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of five sailors and those injured following the MH-60S helicopter tragedy off the coast of Southern California. We stand alongside their families, loved ones, and shipmates who grieve,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said in a statement.

An August Tragedy 

Officials said the helicopter’s rotor hit the USS Abraham Lincoln while on the flight deck and fell into the ocean. The incident happened around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 31.

NBC News reported Department of Defense details that the helicopter was landing on the flight deck when it experienced “side-to-side vibrations.” The main rotor struck the flight deck, flipping the aircraft over the side of the ship.

After the incident, ship personnel rescued a crew member from the water. NBC reported that five additional sailors suffered injuries in the incident and are in stable condition.

The Orange County Register reported that Navy and Coast Guard ships and planes searched for helicopter passengers over 72 hours. After that point, the efforts turned into a recovery mission. The five sailors were presumed dead and identified a day later.

More Details From Helicopter Crash 

The Navy said Tuesday that USS Abraham Lincoln personnel took two of the five sailors to San Diego area hospitals while three others remained aboard the ship with minor injuries.

Pilots Lt. Bradley Foster and Lt. Paul Fridley died in the crash. Foster, 29, came from Oakhurst, Calif. The 28-year-old Fridley was from Annandale, Virginia.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns (31) was from Severna Park, Maryland, while Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker (21) had ties to the St. Louis area.

Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class James P. Buriak was from Salem, Virginia. He died at 31. 

The Navy confirmed that Buriak and Burns got posthumously promoted to petty officer 1st class, according to the newspaper. Tucker also advanced to petty officer 2nd class.

The Navy said the investigation of the crash is continuing.

Typically, the MH-60S helicopter carries a crew of about four. The aircraft works in missions including combat support, humanitarian disaster relief, and search and rescue.

Outsider.com