Coast Guard Searching for Missing Helicopter Last Seen Leaving Airport

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk. Coast Guard photo
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk. Coast Guard photo

The U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard responded Wednesday night to reports of a downed or missing helicopter in the Atchafalaya Basin in Iberia Parish.

Mary McHale, public affairs specialist for the Air Force, said a commercial helicopter doing a pipeline survey was reported missing late Wednesday afternoon. The Federal Aviation Administration also said a Schweizer H269 helicopter was reported missing at 4 p.m. Wednesday, with its its last known position as departing from Gonzales.

The helicopter was headed toward Patterson but did not arrive when it was supposed to, prompting the report and the search.

"We just know it's overdue," McHale said about the helicopter. "Basically, it's missing at this point."

Coast Guard operations specialist first class Charles Froberg said the Coast Guard could not confirm if there was a crash, but had been called in to search the scene with the Air Force.

The FAA also confirmed a search was under way, but could not confirm there was a helicopter crash.

"We don't have any independent confirmation right now that they've actually found something," said FAA public affairs manager Lynn Lunsford. "I know they were looking."

Froberg said the Coast Guard was searching swaths of Iberia Parish via a helicopter and a 29-foot response boat.

KATC-TV reported that Iberia Parish Sheriff Louis Ackal told them a helicopter crashed in the Atchafalaya basin and that at least one person from the crash was in the water.

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