Air Station Sitka Crew Crashes in Washington State


Ed Ronco/KCAW

A Coast Guard helicopter with an Air Station Sitka crew aboard has gone down in the waters near James Island, Washington.

The Coast Guard says in a news release that it lost contact with the helicopter just after 9:30 Pacific Time this morning – about 45 minutes after it departed from Air Station Astoria, in Oregon, with a Sitka crew aboard.

Petty officer Eric Chandler says rescue efforts are underway. He says two crewmen were picked up by a good Samaritan vessel not long after the crash, while a third was picked up by a small Coast Guard response boat. The fourth crewman is still missing. Names of the crew members have not been released.

The Coast Guard tells KING-TV in Seattle that the chopper was on its way to be based in Sitka from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The chopper was flown to Astoria, and an Air Station Sitka crew flew down yesterday to pick it up. The Sitka crew was aboard at the time of the accident.

The National Weather Service reports the weather at the time of the crash was sunny and 80 degrees with east winds at 10 miles per hour. Chandler, with the Coast Guard, says a cause for the accident is unclear. KING-TV is quoting a local utility as saying the chopper struck a power cable in the area.

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