N.C. based Coast Guard helicopter down in Rockies near Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY – A Coast Guard MH-60T helicopter with five crewmembers aboard went down in the Rocky Mountains Wednesday approximately 50 miles east of Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., called Coast Guard watchstanders at the 5th District command center at 11:55 a.m. stating that they picked up a signal from a personal locator beacon registered to Air Station Elizabeth City, which was later confirmed by the air station to have resulted from a crash.

“The PLB is a distress button on the search and rescue vests worn by the air crews,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jeremy Blanton of the 5th District command center.

Air Station Elizabeth City personnel informed 5th District watchstanders that the pilot and flight mechanic have reported internal injuries and the co-pilot has a broken leg. The other two crewmembers do not have any apparent serious injuries.

This helicopter is one of two that were en route to Kansas City for an overnight stay on the way to return to the air station from a deployment to Washington state in support of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. After the helicopter went down, the accompanying crew had to leave the scene to refuel. They have returned and transferred two of the injured crewmembers to University of Utah Hospital.

A Summit County Air Med life flight helicopter airlifted the third crewmember to Inner Mountain Medical Center, five miles south of Salt Lake City.

Local search and rescue agencies in Summit County, including Summit County Air Med helicopter, have been engaged by the Coast Guard to assist in the crash response. A Wasatch County Sheriff’s Department search and rescue crew is assisting the other two helicopter crewmembers.

A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Sacramento assisted with communications and coordination of rescue efforts. This airplane was in the area transporting personnel and equipment from Olympic security operations to the East Coast.

The cause of this crash is under investigation.

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