2 Coast Guard crew members injured in helicopter crash during Alaska rescue mission
Stars and Stripes November 14, 2023
Two Coast Guard crew members from Air Station Sitka were seriously injured late Monday night when their MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crashed while on a search and rescue mission in Alaska.
The helicopter went down at about 11:05 p.m. local time on Read Island in the sparsely populated Farragut Bay area of coastal southern Alaska, about 61 miles east of Sitka, according to a statement from the Coast Guard’s District 17 office in Juneau, the state capital.
Two other Coast Guard crew members on the helicopter were uninjured, the Coast Guard said. The injured crew were evacuated to a hospital in Seattle.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.
The National Weather Service reported temperatures on Monday night at or near freezing overnight at Farragut Bay, with a mix of rain and snow, along with occasional gusts of winds up to 20 mph.
The helicopter had been sent to assist the fishing boat Lydia Marie, which had reported flooding on the vessel and requested assistance. Crew on the ship saw the helicopter crash and radioed information to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard said rescue teams from Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Petersburg Fire and Rescue reached the crash site less than two hours later, at about 12:50 a.m. Tuesday. Air Station Sitka also dispatched a second MH-60 Jayhawk that arrived at about 1:39 a.m. The injured crew members received first aid.
The four crew members were hoisted aboard the second Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter and transported to Petersburg, a town of about 3,000 people southeast of Farragut Bay. They received additional medical care there. A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules four-engine transport plane was dispatched from Coast Guard Station Kodiak to Petersburg to fly the injured crew to Seattle for “a higher level of medical care.”
The Coast Guard cutters Elderberry and Douglas Denman were sent to Farragut Bay to assist the damaged fishing boat and establish a security zone around the helicopter crash site to preserve it for investigators.
The MH-60 Jayhawk is a twin-turbine variant of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter used by the Army. The twin-turbine version is also used by the Navy.
“Our priority is to provide the highest level of care possible for our injured members and their families,” said Rear Adm. Megan Dean, commander of the Coast Guard’s 17th District. “We are grateful for the swift response and professional skill shown by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers and Petersburg Fire and Rescue members who answered our call for assistance during this critical time.”