Navy recovers pilot's body from helicopter wreckage

By LAUREN KING | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: January 15, 2014

Navy divers have recovered the remains of Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, the fifth crewmember of a MH-53E Sea Dragon that crashed off the coast of Cape Henry last week.

Divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2, operating aboard the Grasp, located the aircraft's cockpit late Monday and used a remotely-operated vehicle to confirm the presence of his remains inside the wreckage, according to a Navy news release.

Salvage operations were suspended late Monday because of deteriorating weather conditions, but resumed recovery efforts Tuesday morning.

Snyder, 39, of Santee, Calif., was the only crewmember who was missing following the crash on Jan. 8.

The Snyder family issued a statement that said, “Sean was a man of honor and a true hero, not only to his country, but also to his wife, children, family, and friends.”

Four other sailors were rescued shortly after the helicopter plunged into the Atlantic Ocean. They were taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, a pilot, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, a crew member, died. The other two crewmembers have since been released from the hospital.

A memorial service for the three sailors killed in the crash was being planned for Friday at Norfolk Naval Station.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

An MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter lifts off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman on Dec. 12, 2013.


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