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Search intensifies for 7 Marines after helicopter crash

December 10, 1999
Web posted at: 7:23 a.m. EST (1223 GMT)

In this story:

Supply ship was destination

2 airlifted to hospital


SAN DIEGO (CNN) -- Seven Marines remained unaccounted for early Friday after the helicopter crashed into the Pacific Ocean off San Diego.

Search and rescue efforts continued as dusk fell over the Pacific on Thursday, hours after a Marine helicopter with 18 people aboard crashed and sank during training maneuvers.

The U.S. military

"We will continue the search and rescue until all of our efforts have been exhausted," Marine Corps Lt. Patricia Restrepo told reporters outside Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, where the Marines involved in the crash are stationed.

Supply ship was destination

The CH-46 helicopter went down about 1:16 p.m. PST (2116 GMT) about 15 miles (24 kms) west-southwest of Point Loma. The helicopter crashed into the sea near the USNS Pecos after taking off from the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship.

It was headed toward the Pecos, a supply ship used as landing platform, at the time of the crash, officials said.

"It's somewhere below the surface. We don't know how far it sank," said Coast Guard Lt. Eric Carter. Coast Guard cutters and helicopters were involved in the rescue effort, along with Navy SEALS.

"The Coast Guard presently has one ship and one helicopter out there, but there's also two naval ships and several other Marine Corps and naval aircraft out there searching," said Coast Guard Lt. Chris Schubert.

"The water temperature being 59 degrees (Fahrenheit) definitely comes into consideration," he said. "It all depends on what they were wearing, their size and other considerations."

The Coast Guard rescued 11 of the Marines and continues to search for the other seven  

2 airlifted to hospital

Nine of the 11 Marines rescued from the downed helicopter were listed in stable condition aboard the Bonhomme Richard, which is equipped to handle trauma cases. Two others were airlifted to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego with more serious injuries.

"People from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit are notifying the families of those Marines involved," Restrepo said.

"Our work is dangerous; we try to do everything possible to make it safe," she said. "Our thoughts, our prayers and our concerns are with those families and the Marines involved."

Restrepo said the military had no specifics as to why the helicopter went down. She said a thorough investigation would begin after search and rescue efforts are completed.

United States Marine Corps
  • Camp Pendleton
  • 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
The Boeing Company
  • UH-46D and CH-46E Sea Knight
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