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Navy Copter Crashes in Ocean; 3 Missing

September 11, 1989|JOHN GLIONNA | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Three members of the crew of a Navy helicopter were missing late Sunday after it crashed into the Pacific Ocean while on military exercises, authorities said. Three others were rescued.

The accident occurred shortly after 11 a.m. about 18 miles southwest of Camp Pendleton as the UH-1N Huey radioed that it was going down, Marine Capt. Chris Gillette said.

The helicopter was en route from San Diego to its home ship, the Long Beach-based amphibious assault ship Peleliu, and was about 3 miles from the ship when it encountered trouble.

Three crewmen--two pilots and a crew chief--along with three passengers were on board when the helicopter went down, authorities said.

One pilot was apparently among the three survivors transported to the Balboa Navy Hospital in San Diego.

One of those rescued was listed in serious condition with a head injury. The other two reportedly suffered minor injuries, Gillette said.

The Navy is not releasing the identification of the survivors nor the missing men pending notification of relatives. The cause of the crash is unknown.

The Huey helicopter is a light utility aircraft that can hold up to 10 people.

"The Peleliu was the mother ship," Gillette said. "It appears the helicopter sent out word before it went down that it was having difficulty."

The Peleliu dispatched a transport boat and several helicopters to assist in the search, which also involved a Coast Guard cutter and several other Navy aircraft, which arrived on the scene from area bases, Gillette said.

The Peleliu is participating in exercises involving the Navy's Amphibious Squadron 3, based in San Diego, and the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Pendleton.

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