On Memorial Day at 4:13 p.m., boaters in the Gulf of Mexico reported to the U.S. Coast Guard that a helicopter had crashed into the water about 35 miles southwest of Grand Isle, La.
Petroleum Helicopters Inc. (PTI), which ferries workers and executives to and from oil and gas structures in the Gulf, owned the helicopter. It reported to the Coast Guard that there was only one person aboard.
The Coast Guard launched a 45′ Response Boat-Medium and an MH-65C helicopter to search for the downed copter. Lt. Scott Talbot, Sector New Orleans command duty officer released a statement that read in part, “We’re utilizing our assets on scene, as well as the efforts of good Samaritans, to thoroughly search the area,”
But it was Oceaneering International’s 58′ offshore dive support vessel Ocean Inspector that found the helicopter. A dive team went down and confirmed that there was a single body inside the cockpit.
PTI is scheduled to release more information later today, such as who was the pilot and what was the pilot’s mission.
The National Transportation Safety Board is also investigating.
While the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf is experiencing a resurgence following the Deepwater Horizon debacle, this kind of news is a sobering reminder of how dangerous the industry can be.