United States Navy Releases Names of the 5 Sailors Killed in Helicopter Crash off California Coast

by Matthew Memrick

Navy officials have released the names of five who were killed in a California helicopter crash last week.

The Navy recently identified Lt. Bradley Foster, Lt. Paul Fridley, Naval Air Crewman James Buriak, Hospital Corpsman Sarah Burns, and Hospital Corpsman Bailey Tucker.

The MH-60S helicopter went down at 4:30 p.m. PST on Tuesday. It was about 60 miles off the coast of San Diego. On Wednesday, Navy officials said the aircraft was undergoing normal flight operations from the USS Abraham Lincoln. Further details stated that the helicopter was operating on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln before crashing into the sea.

On Saturday, the Navy declared the sailors dead after a search that lasted more than three days. The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander told CBS that 34 search and rescue flights with five search helicopters, more than 170 hours of flight time, and constant surface vessel search.

The aircraft carrier posted more after the search ended.

“Moving forward, we will continue to honor their service and legacy in everything we do, and hope you join us in this mission,” it said. “We thank you all for your continued support, thoughts, and prayers as this transition is incredibly difficult on all of us.

Helicopter Rescue Efforts Started Immediately 

A day after the crash, the Navy’s Third Fleet said one sailor had been rescued and stabilized at a San Diego hospital.

The Associated Press reported that additional sailors aboard the aircraft carrier suffered injuries. Of the five, three were treated on the carrier, while two went to San Diego for hospitalization.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the helicopter remained in the ocean on Saturday, but officials knew where it was. The copter was part of the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 8.

The Navy has not yet found the wreckage, but officials knew the location of the MH-60S helicopter in the water.

Typically, the helicopter has a four-person crew, and it is used for combat support, humanitarian disaster relief, and search and rescue. 

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Crash Victim Already A Hero

One of the victims, a Virginia man, previously saved a man in Guam, and officials recognized his heroism. 

A Salem, Va. TV station said James Buriak saved a tourist in February 2020. The man was walking with friends on a beach as cries for help came from the ocean.

Buriak handed his phone and wallet to his friends and jumped into the ocean toward the distressed people.

“I just happened to be the person there,” said Buriak. “I would like to think that regardless of who it was, they would have done the same. Someone said they needed help, and anyone would do the same in my shoes.”

In the announcement of his death, Naval officials released a photo of Buriak with his family. His wife, Megan, and son, Caulder survive him.