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Army halts search for remains from helicopter crash

  • COURTESY GOFUNDME

    Army officials have stopped the recovery and salvage operation related to the Aug. 15 crash of a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter off Kaena Point. Five crew members were declared deceased after the accident: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen T. Cantrell, 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, Staff Sgt. Abigail R. Milam, Sgt. Michael L. Nelson and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian M. Woeber, above with his family.

The Army has halted operations to retrieve the wreckage and the remains of five crew members from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed at sea Aug. 15 off Kaena Point.

“Families were notified within the last 24 hours,” Master Sgt. Jason Stadel, a 25th Infantry Division spokesman, said Thursday.

The Army said in a news release that it ended the monthlong recovery and salvage operation after determining “it was unlikely additional aircrew remains would be found. Additionally, investigators determined enough physical and visual evidence had been collected to allow a thorough investigation into the crash.”

Lt. Col. Curt Kellogg of the 25th Division said Thursday, “Between the search and rescue and the recovery and salvage, we have found trace remains of all five (crew members).”

Officials in late August declared as deceased pilots Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brian M. Woeber, 41, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stephen T. Cantrell, 32. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner previously made that determination for 1st Lt. Kathryn M. Bailey, 26; Staff Sgt. Abigail R. Milam, 33; and Sgt. Michael L. Nelson, 30, after trace remains discovered among floating debris were matched to their DNA.

The Black Hawk was on a routine nighttime training mission flying some distance behind another helicopter when it disappeared without a mayday call. It was reported missing at about 9:30 p.m. Floating pieces of the fuselage and four flight crew helmets were subsequently located.

Recovery and salvage operations began Aug. 21 after a U.S. Coast Guard-led search and rescue operation was suspended without locating the crew or helicopter.

The Military Sealift Command-chartered MV HOS Dominator, a 240-foot submarine support ship, spent 10 to 11 days on station with Navy divers looking for the crew and helicopter, Kellogg said. The ship initially experienced a “major maintenance issue” and had to return to port.

Kellogg said the search area was generally about a mile or more west and northwest of Kaena Point in waters about 150 feet deep.

He said major components of the helicopter were recovered, “but I don’t have a list of that and that’s not something that I’m going to provide. That’s something that the investigators have.”

U.S. Army Pacific and the Army’s Combat Readiness Center are investigating the crash.

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