All Passengers Aboard Navy Helicopter Rescued
Cass, WV – All 17 passengers aboard a U.S. Navy helicopter that went down in northwestern Pocahontas County have been accounted for, according to the West Virginia Army National Guard.
Thirteen of the passengers have been transported to Elkins, while the remaining four were transported to Charlottesville, Virginia, according to a statement released by Specialist Anna-Marie Hizer.
The Names and nature of the injuries are not being released as of Friday afternoon.
Military officials are looking into the reasons the helicopter went down seven miles north of Snowshoe Mountain Thursday afternoon, between Pocahontas and Randolph Counties. The National Guard has described it as a forced landing, while statements from the Navy described the incident as a crash.
The helicopter was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 26 from Naval Station Norfolk. It was participating in “Operation Southbound Trooper 10” at Ft. Pickett, Virginia, when it went down.
Operation Southern Trooper is an annual exercise focusing on the integration of joint U.S. and NATO tactics and procedures as well as inter-service coordination and capabilities.
A West Virginia Army National Guard search and rescue crew flying “Blackhawk” helicopters and a C-130 located the downed aircraft Thursday evening in a rugged, snow-covered area. Medics were lowered to the site to provide assistance for the injured. Due to weather conditions and rough terrain, including 4 to 8 feet of snow on the ground, first responders did not reach the scene until almost midnight. Once there, each round-trip in and out of the site took two to three hours.
Military officials the State Police, Randolph and Pocahontas County Sheriffs’ Departments, the Shavers Fork Volunteer Fire Department and Snowshoe Mountain for the role they played in the rescue effort on the ground. Facilities at the National Radio Astronomy in Green Bank were also pressed into service by those coordinating the rescue Thursday night and Friday morning.