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Four presumed dead after local Marine helicopter crash

Four presumed dead after Marine helicopter crash

IMPERIAL COUNTY, CALIF. - UPDATE (2:36 P.M.)

Deputy Coroner Derrick Lindberg with the Imperial County Sheriff's Office said the bodies of the four crew members killed in a military helicopter crash were recovered Tuesday night and taken to a coroner's facility. 

Lindberg said the Marine Corps has taken custody of the bodies to conduct autopsies.

Captain Morgan Frazer with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said the aircraft departed the Strategic Expeditionary Landing Field at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., to conduct squadron training consisting of aircraft landings in unimproved zones.

The mishap occurred approximately 15 miles west of El Centro.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

The names of the crew members are expected to be released Wednesday evening after their relatives are notified.

President Donald Trump posted a message on his Twitter account, saying, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the four U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing who lost their lives in yesterday’s Southern California helicopter crash. We pray for their families and our great @USMC.

ORIGINAL POST 

Officials with REACH Air Medical Services have confirmed to News 11 that they assisted with Tuesday's Marine helicopter crash where four crew members are presumed dead and that no patients were transported from the scene of the crash.

Donnie Wharton, REACH director of business development, said, "We were dispatched to a location that was out what I would call the west desert area. It’s commonly known as the Plaster City area because there is an operation out there located in that area but quite remote. We flew out to that area to assist in the incident as requested”.

Wharton said the REACH crew landed safely at the scene of the crash, but they did not transport any of the four crew members aboard the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. 

Wharton did not have any specifics on exactly where the crash took place. 

Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif. said a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed in the area of El Centro, Calif., at around 2:35 p.m. during a routine training mission.

Four crew members were aboard the aircraft. The status of all four is presumed dead pending positive identification.

The names of the deceased will be withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

According to Military.com the CH-53E Super Stallion is the Marine Corps’ primary heavy lift helicopter and has been in service for over 30 years.

There are currently 152 CH-53E aircraft in operation. The Super Stallion incorporates GPS, doppler radar, FLIR, and ANVIS-HUD sensors, and carries 7.62mm and 50 caliber guns (as a mission kit). 

The heavy-lift helicopter of the Marine Corps can carry a 26,000-pound Light Armored Vehicle, 16 tons of cargo 50 miles and back, or enough combat-loaded Marines to lead an assault or humanitarian operation. Though powerful enough to lift every aircraft in the Marine inventory except the KC-130, the CH-53E Super Stallion is compact enough to deploy on amphibious assault ships, and has the armament, speed and agility to qualify as much more than a heavy lifter.

UPDATE (Tuesday, 9:07 P.M.)

Four people are presumed dead following a routine training mission involving a single helicopter that happened near El Centro Tuesday afternoon, according to officials.

Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, Calif. said a Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed in the area of El Centro, Calif., at around 2:35 p.m. during a routine training mission.

Four crew members were aboard the aircraft. The status of all four is presumed dead pending positive identification.

The names of the deceased will be withheld until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification.

The cause of the crash is currently under investigation.

According to Military.com the CH-53E Super Stallion is the Marine Corps’ primary heavy lift helicopter and has been in service for over 30 years.

There are currently 152 CH-53E aircraft in operation. The Super Stallion incorporates GPS, doppler radar, FLIR, and ANVIS-HUD sensors, and carries 7.62mm and 50 caliber guns (as a mission kit). 

The heavy-lift helicopter of the Marine Corps can carry a 26,000-pound Light Armored Vehicle, 16 tons of cargo 50 miles and back, or enough combat-loaded Marines to lead an assault or humanitarian operation. Though powerful enough to lift every aircraft in the Marine inventory except the KC-130, the CH-53E Super Stallion is compact enough to deploy on amphibious assault ships, and has the armament, speed and agility to qualify as much more than a heavy lifter.

ORIGINAL POST

The Naval Air Facility in El Centro is reporting an accident involving a single helicopter that happened this afternoon north of Plaster City, Calif. according to their Facebook page

Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, confirmed to News 11 via email the helicopter is with the military. NAF El Centro has yet to verify that, or release more information.

The air facility has responded to the scene,  along with other agencies. 

NAF El Centro posted this message on its Facebook page:

We request that you be patient as the Navy and Marine Corps team work through the incident. The situation on the ground is changing as new information becomes available. Once we can confirm the information, we will release it. Right now we ask that you keep these brave service members in your thoughts and prayers.

There are several other helicopters in the area assisting with the incident.

We will update you with more information as it becomes available. 


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