Coast Guard searching for possible survivors of downed helicopter off Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station San Juan, in Puerto Rico, patrol an area near El Morro, June 18, 2007

USCG Station San Juan File Photo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard is assisting local emergency responders Tuesday in the search for possible survivors from a Puerto Rico National Guard helicopter crash in waters off the northern coast of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico Monday night.

The Coast Guard received notification Monday evening from the Puerto Rico National Guard Army Aviation unit of a missing UH-72 Lakota helicopter carrying six people.

The helicopter reportedly was transporting four Puerto Rico National Guardsmen and two attorneys from the Puerto Rico Department of Justice, who departed Monday night from the Isla Grande Airport en route to the former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba, Puerto Rico.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the missing soldiers and public service attorneys on the disappearance of their loved ones,” said. Capt. Marc Stegman, Sector San Juan acting commander.

Puerto Rico National Guard authorities requested Coast Guard assistance in locating the missing aircraft.

A Coast Guard Station San Juan 45-foot response boat crew located the helicopter debris field at approximately 1:30 a.m. Tuesday off the coast of Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.

Coast Guard rescue crews have been searching since Monday night aboard MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico,  Coast Guard Station San Juan 45-foot response boats and the Coast Guard Cutter’s Reef Shark and Farallon.

Emergency responders from the Puerto Rico National Guard, Puerto Rico maritime police, Puerto Rico Emergency Management and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice are also searching.

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