News

Air Force begins recovery of helicopter crash airmen

Air Force begins recovery of helicopter crash airmen

CRASH: police officer stands by a Pave Hawk helicopter, at the scene of a helicopter crash on the coast near the village of Cley next the Sea in Norfolk, eastern England Jan. 8. Photo: Reuters/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force will start to recover on Thursday the bodies of four American airmen from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed two days ago in remote coastal marshland in eastern England, British police said.

The recovery of the bodies has been delayed by the scattering of a “significant” amount of bullets and munitions after the helicopter came down in a Norfolk nature reserve while on a low-level training mission on Tuesday evening.

The site, described by police as the size of a soccer pitch, remains cordoned off to the public following a visit by investigators on Wednesday evening. The area of flat coastal grassland lies about 130 miles northeast of London.

“Police and other agencies remain on scene today as the investigation continues and will ensure the recovery of the bodies is dignified and respectful,” Chief Superintendent Bob Scully of Norfolk Police said in a statement.

“The scene is on difficult ground and the longer term investigation and recovery work will take many more weeks.”

The helicopter was a Pave Hawk assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath air base. A second helicopter taking part in the training mission landed safely.

Colonel Kyle Robinson, commander of the 48th Fighter Wing, described the accident as a “tragic loss” and said it was too soon to say why the crash happened despite speculation in the British media that birds may have been to blame.

“It is still too early to speculate as to what caused the crash and to make any long-term decisions based on that,” Robinson told a news conference at RAF Lakenheath on Thursday.

The four men on board were named as Captain Christopher S. Stover, Captain Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce.

The Pave Hawk is made by Sikorsky Aircraft Co, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith and Costas Pitas; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Recent Headlines

yesterday in National

Teen stowaway spent hours undetected at California airport

airport

A boy who stowed away on a flight to Hawaii in the frozen, oxygen-deprived wheel well of a passenger jet is resting in a hospital.

yesterday in Sports

Suns’ Dragic voted NBA’s most improved

suns

Phoenix guard Goran Dragic, whose breakout campaign helped his team to a 23-win improvement, was named most improved player.

yesterday in National

Washington state eyes building ban after deadly mudslide

mudslide

Snohomish County is considering a six-month ban on new construction in landslide-prone areas.

yesterday in Sports

Phelps facing toughest challenge yet

phelps

Michael Phelps has been swimming against the tide all his life.

yesterday in Sports

Pujols joins 500 club

pujols

Albert Pujols belted two homers to reach the 500 home run milestone as he powered the Los Angeles Angels to a 7-2.