Local News

Sea Search Ends

Posted March 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— Coast Guard crews and the Navy have called off their search of the waters off North Carolina for a Seahawk helicopter and its crew of four.

Crew members of the missing helicopter were identified as pilots Lt. Commander Joseph F. King of Orange Park, Fla., and Lt. Christopher D. Buckley of Hampton, N.Y.; and aircrewmen Chief Petty Officer Andrew K. Baker of Middleburg, Fla. and second class Petty Officer Edward J. Kos of Jacksonville, Fla.

The HH-60H Seahawk crashed Thursday night about 23 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras during a refueling exercise with the frigate USS Jesse L. Taylor, based in Mayport. Fla.

Lt. Karen Brown of the Coast Guard said sometimes they heard a signal, then it would disappear.

"On-scene commanders have praised the heroic efforts of Navy and coast guard rescue personnel who conducted search and rescue operations in extremely rough seas and under very hazardous conditions," C. Patrick Dooling, public affairs officer at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Fla., said.

The crash occurred as the aircraft made a single pass across the stern of the frigate Taylor, preparing to land on its stern helicopter platform, the Pilot and Ledger Star of Norfolk, Va. reported.

At the time of the accident, winds were 30 to 35 mph and seas were about 5 feet in the area, The National Weather Service said. Friday's rough weather continued to hamper search efforts. Ships used spotlights to comb the area Friday night.

The helicopter had been based on the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.