(HONOLULU) — Four life rafts were found off the coast of Hawaii as the frantic search for a dozen missing Marines – whose helicopters crashed there – entered its fifth day.
Arriving late Sunday night from Pearl Harbor, a U.S. Navy salvage ship has now joined the underwater search effort near the last known position of the two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. The ship’s mission is to support the search and rescue operation with sonar technology and a remotely operated vehicle.
As of Monday, responders have conducted 89 searches covering a space of 21,000 sq. nautical miles. According to Marine spokesman Captain Timothy Irish, 400-500 service members are still actively searching in treacherous conditions below water, above water, and along the shoreline for any clues that could lead them to the missing crew.
“Our focus is to locate these Marines and know with absolute certainty we’ve thoroughly canvassed every location we might find them,” Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr said yesterday during a press briefing.
The Coast Guard was first notified of the missing helicopters late Thursday night when a civilian called about a fireball they had witnessed in the sky. Another report also spoke of a flare in the sky, according to Lt. Carr, but it remains unclear if the fireball and flare are related.
Over the weekend the 12 missing Marines were identified as Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas. Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis, Missouri. Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama. Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24,Chaska, Minnesota. Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania. Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina. Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama. Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas. Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida. Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts. Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon.
The cause of this accident is still under investigation by the Marine Corps.
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