3 safe after Coast Guard helicopter crash

By Tammy Stables Battaglia, Detroit Free Press

Apr. 21–Three U.S. Coast Guardsmen aboard a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit HH65C rescue helicopter are safe after their helicopter crashed during nighttime training in southern Lake Huron Tuesday night.

The helicopter was practicing rescue hoists with a 41-foot Coast Guard utility boat based in Port Huron when something went wrong at 9:45 p.m. The orange helicopter crashed into the 50-foot-deep water, missing the boat, and sank nine miles north of Port Huron, Jerry Popiel, assistant chief of incident management for the Coast Guard’s 9th District said this morning.

“At this time, we really can’t say what caused the accident, really because we don’t know,” Popiel said. “Incidents like this typically happen very quickly.”

All three aviators — the pilot, Lt. Vincent Bukowski of Chicago, and Texas natives Lt. Tasha Hood, 27, the copilot, and Samuel Downie, 24, the flight mechanic — were able to get out of the helicopter before it sank. No injuries were reported, but they were taken to a local hospital as a safety precaution and were later released.

Coast Guard Sector Detroit has established a three-mile safety zone around the location of the helicopter in preparation for the investigation and salvage operations, which are scheduled to begin today.

The U.S. Coast Guard HH65C is a multi-mission, short-range recovery helicopter.

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