An aborted training mission killed 11 members of the military along the Florida Gulf Coast on March 13th. The mission, which took place in a narrow body of water between the mainland of northern Florida and a barrier island, was aborted due to extreme fog and bad weather.
The training mission was part of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and was organized from the Eglin Air Force Base. According to military officials, two Blackhawk helicopters were conducting “insertion and extraction techniques” in the Florida waters. The exercise was taking place at night. The two helicopter crews had successfully completed a similar mission during daylight hours.
As they began to start the nighttime version of the training mission, a heavy fog moved into the area. The decision was made to abort the training mission. The second helicopter lost communication with the downed helicopter shorty after it returned to base. The helicopter quickly returned to the Gulf waters to search for the missing helicopter. A military boat that was also involved in operation was called to the scene as well.
Search teams quickly learned that the Blackhawk helicopter had crashed into the Gulf waters, and the operation changed from a search mission to a recovery mission. When daylight came, recovery teams quickly found the vehicle at the bottom of the sound. The seven Marines and four Army National Guard members were still onboard the helicopter, which was 25 feet below the surface of the water.
A rescue team pulled the bodies from the helicopter. They were flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for identification and forensic examinations before being turned over to the soldiers’ families for burial. The helicopter was also pulled from the water and will be examined. The Marines ranged in age from 26 to 33. The military had not released the identifications of the National Guard members who were killed in the crash. They were with the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion from Hammond, Louisiana.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, but military officials say it was a “high-impact crash.” The helicopter apparently split in half upon impact.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an aviation related accident, contact us today at the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. immediately at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) for a free initial consultation.
James O. Cunningham
Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.
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