Coast Guard Helicopter Crashes, 2 Seriously Injured, in Alaska Search-and-Rescue Mission

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter
A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flies over Gator Beach of Naval Base Coronado April 11, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy M. Black)

Four members of a Coast Guard air crew were injured late Monday night, Nov. 13, after their helicopter crashed while conducting a search-and-rescue mission off the coast of southeastern Alaska.

Two of the four members of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter air crew from Air Station Sitka near Juneau, Alaska, were listed as being in serious condition while the other two were listed in good condition with only minor injuries, as of Tuesday afternoon. The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

While the circumstances of the crash are still under investigation, according to a statement by the Coast Guard, the crew had been responding to a call for search-and-rescue assistance of a flooding fishing vessel near Read Island when the crash occurred.

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The fishing vessel Lydia Marie first called for help around 8 p.m. local time on Nov. 12. A second call from the vessel was put out to watchstanders notifying them of the helicopter crash around 11:05 p.m. Rescue crews from Alaska Wildfire Troopers and Petersburg Fire and Rescue arrived on scene at approximately 12:50 a.m. while a second MH-60 Jayhawk air crew from Air Station Sitka arrived around 1:39 a.m.

The four injured Coast Guardsmen were then transported to Petersburg for medical care, where they were further transferred to Seattle for follow-on treatment at Harborview Medical Center.

"Our priority is to provide the highest level of care possible for our injured members and their families," Rear Adm. Megan Dean, commander of the Coast Guard's 17th District, said in a statement. "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."

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Elderberry and Douglas Denman concluded the search-and-rescue assistance to the Lydia Marie, and the vessel was safely escorted back to Petersburg.

This is the second helicopter crash for the U.S. military in the past week.

Five Army Special Operations soldiers were killed Nov. 10 after their MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean Sea while conducting aerial refueling training. It is unclear whether the troops were in the region as part of a regular training rotation or as part of a deterrent force positioned following the start of the Israel-Hamas war, but the Defense Department said the crash was unrelated.

According to a department press release, "there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy/hostile actions."

-- Rachel Nostrant is a freelance reporter and Marine veteran. She has previously worked for Military Times, Reuters and others, covering the war in Ukraine and U.S. national affairs. She is on X @rachelnostrant.

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