Coast Guard calls off search for 2 after helicopter does down near Albemarle Sound

North Carolina news

(Photo by U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images/FILE)

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WNCN) — The Coast Guard has suspended its search for two men who went missing after a helicopter went down Monday near the Albemarle Sound.

Over 38 hours, the Coast Guard said it, and assisting agencies, searched 3,303 miles for the men who were in a Robinson R44 helicopter.

The two left Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport near South Hill Virginia on Monday with plans to land at Dare County Regional Airport.

Image courtesy U.S. Coast Guard District 5

A friend contacted the Coast Guard at 6:40 p.m. Monday to say they lost communication with the two.

The Coast Guard immediately launched an air and surface search for the aircraft.

Tuesday morning, a backpack containing personal belongings was found about 3.5 miles south of the mouth of the Alligator River.

Soon after that discovery, helicopter debris was found in the water approximately 9 miles north of the Alligator River Bridge in the Albemarle Sound.

“Suspending a search is one of the hardest decisions we make in the Coast Guard,” said Cmdr. Corrie Sergent, chief of response for Sector North Carolina. “As a member of this unified response, I think I can safely say that this sentiment is shared by our partner agencies as well. We were able to coordinate a robust search effort by air and on the water with a dedicated team of responders. Our sincere thoughts are with the families of the two men during this incredibly difficult time.”

The Coast Guard-led search included the following assets and agencies: 

  • A Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City
  • A MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City
  • A 29-foot Response Boat-Small boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City
  • N.C. Marine Patrol
  • N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
  • Tyrell County Sheriff’s Department
  • Tyrell County Emergency Management
  • Tyrell County Fire Department
  • Washington County Emergency Management 
  • Craven County Emergency Management
  • Hertford County Emergency Management
  • N.C. State Highway Patrol
  • Sydney Fire Department
  • Tow Boat U.S. Oregon Inlet

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