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Search for 4 missing in helicopter crash in Gulf suspended – American Press

Search suspended for 4 missing in Gulf helicopter crash

Published 10:09 am Friday 30 December 2022

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for four people aboard a helicopter that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico while exiting an oil platform Thursday morning.

Although the crash is not a closed case, crews will not continue the search unless they receive new information, said Petty Officer Jose Hernandez, a spokesman for the Coast Guard’s 8th Precinct headquartered in New Orleans. New information includes finding more debris or a dead body.

“It’s always a difficult decision to suspend a search,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator for the New Orleans Coast Guard Sector.

The helicopter’s pilot and three oil workers crashed about 8:40 a.m. Thursday about 10 miles off the coast of Southwest Pass, a shipping channel at the mouth of the Mississippi River southeast of New Orleans. Helicopters routinely transport workers to and from oil platforms in the Gulf.

One of the missing workers, according to his wife Lacy Scarborough, is 36-year-old David Scarborough of Lizana, Miss. She told the Sun Herald newspaper that they are expecting a baby and that her husband recently got a promotion.

Lacy Scarborough told WDSU-TV to return home to celebrate a late Christmas with his family. She said the last message he sent her said the helicopter was about to take off and that he would be home soon.

“I’m pretty lost right now,” said Lacy Scarborough. “Not knowing where he is, or if he’s still out there, or if he’s still underwater. Is he still in the helicopter? Where is he? It’s just the unknown, the uncertainty of everything.”

It would be the family’s second tragedy this year. The Scarboroughs lost their 2-year-old son Sawyer when the boy drowned last March.

“I have no doubt that if David doesn’t come home, he’s absolutely in heaven with our Sawyer,” said Lacy Scarborough.

Weather did not appear to be a factor in the crash, Hernandez said, as there were no reports of storms in the area Thursday. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the crash. The NTSB said it should have a preliminary report in a few weeks.

Crews in a boat and a helicopter searched an area of ​​about 180 square miles (460 square kilometers) for eight hours. Hernandez said crews found debris but no people. Photos of the debris released by the Coast Guard showed a cluster of cylindrical yellow objects bobbing up and down in the water.

Hernandez said the rig will be operated by Houston-based Walter Oil and Gas. A company spokesman did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The Coast Guard said the helicopter was owned by Rotorcraft Leasing Company, which did not respond to requests for more information.

Two weeks ago, another Rotorcraft helicopter crashed off the coast of Louisiana while attempting to land on an oil rig. The Coast Guard rescued three people. That Dec. 15 crash happened south of Terrebonne Bay, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of the area the Coast Guard searched Thursday.

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