Authorities have located a U.S. military helicopter carrying five U.S. Marines that went missing on a flight from Nevada to California on Tuesday.
First responders are continuing to search for the aircrew, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.
“The U.S. Marine Corps is searching for five U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing,” Marine Corps Air Station Miramar said in a statement Thursday. “The Marines were flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Creech Air Force Base to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Feb. 6, 2024, when the aircraft was reported overdue.
“The aircraft was located by civil authorities in Pine Valley, California at 9:08 AM PST on February 7, 2024,” the statement continued. “The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is managing search and rescue efforts through the Wings Operations Command Center and using ground and aviation assets to locate the aircrew in coordination with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and multiple federal, state and local agencies. The most up-to-date information will be released as soon as it becomes available.”
The Marines say they are in contact with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office and are coordinating search efforts. The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter had departed Creech Air Force Base in Nevada en route to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego on Tuesday night.
First responders have requested additional resources to assist with the search effort due to heavy snow near Pine Valley, the San Diego County Fire Department said.
Local first responders were first contacted regarding the incident early Wednesday morning. The San Diego Sheriff’s Office attempted to send a helicopter to begin the search immediately, but the aircraft was called off due to the “atmospheric river” storm hitting the area.
Cal Fire officials responded to the helicopter’s last known location over the Cleveland National Forest, but nothing was found.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that President Biden has been briefed on the situation.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby added that the White House is “watching this closely.”
“Obviously, our hopes are of the best here,” Kirby told reporters.
The incident comes roughly two months after a U.S. Air Force Osprey crashed off the coast of Japan in December. All eight crew members aboard the craft were killed in the incident.
Another Osprey crashed in August of last year with over 20 Marines aboard. Three service members were killed in that incident and roughly 20 more were injured.