Breaking: 4 USMC Crewmen Presumed Dead In California After Helicopter Crash

Following a helicopter crash in California, it is being reported the four United States Marine Corps crew members are presumed dead.

The crash occurred late Tuesday afternoon, but nearby Naval Air Facility El Centro continued to search for positive identification of survivors early into Wednesday morning.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends affected by the tragedy earlier today.

Posted by Naval Air Facility El Centro on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Per Fox News:

The naval facility sent fire and security units as well as other helicopters to the scene of the crash, KYMA-TV reported.

The Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter reportedly belonged to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego.

The Marine Corps was withholding the identities of those killed for 24 hours until next of kin notifications are complete.

“The status of all four is presumed dead pending positive identification,” read a statement from the aviation unit.

According to the report, the cause of the crash is still unknown and, if the four crewmen are confirmed dead, the crash will be the deadliest Marines crash since the incident which occurred in July (all 16 members aboard died during the incident).

USA Today reports the crash adds to the tragic pattern of helicopter crashes:

Tuesday’s California crash is the deadliest involving a Marine aircraft since a KC130T transport plane went down in Mississippi last July, killing 15 Marines and a sailor.

The California crash also occurred on the same day that a Marine Harrier jet crashed during takeoff from an airport in the East African nation of Djibouti. The pilot managed to eject and was being medically evaluated, military officials said.

The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest helicopter in the U.S. military. It is used for minesweeping and transport and can carry dozens of troops and tons of cargo.

Two years ago, 12 Marines died when two of the helicopters collided off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii.

Last October, a CH-53E helicopter crashed and burned in Okinawa but nobody was injured.

In 2005, 31 people died when a CH-53E helicopter went down in Iraq during a sandstorm.

Per Naval Air Facility El Centro:

We want to thank our friends and neighbors in the Imperial Valley for all of their support and prayers today. The 3rd…

Posted by Naval Air Facility El Centro on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

We are currently still responding to what we have confirmed as a single helicopter incident. We ask that you continue to be patient with us as the situation unfolds.

Posted by Naval Air Facility El Centro on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

We request that you be patient as the Navy and Marine Corps team work through the incident. The situation on the ground…

Posted by Naval Air Facility El Centro on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

We are aware that an accident involving a single helicopter occurred a short time ago in the vicinity of the area north…

Posted by Naval Air Facility El Centro on Tuesday, April 3, 2018

CBS Los Angeles has more on the crashed helicopter:

The CH-53E crashed about 6 miles from Plaster City in Imperial County at about 4 p.m. Tuesday, The Desert Review reported.

On defense contractor Lockheed Martin’s website, the Sikorsky CH-53K — the downed chopper’s most recent successor — is described as “the best choice for handling missions like humanitarian aid, troop transport, casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), support of special operations forces, and combat search and rescue (CSAR). No matter the mission, the aircraft provides the highest degree of safety for its crew and occupants in all conditions.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the four U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing who lost their lives in yesterday’s Southern California helicopter crash. We pray for their families, and our great @USMC,” President Trump tweeted.