Remains found after crash of military helicopter carrying 11

video at top: Marines, Soldiers Missing After Helicopter Crash
See Gallery
Remains found after crash of military helicopter carrying 11
Military officials have released the names of seven special forces Marines who were killed when a Black Hawk helicopter crashed into the waters off Florida during a routine training mission in dense fog.
#BREAKING: Images of wreckage coming in. Latest info here:
Seven Marines and four soldiers are presumed dead after a helicopter crashed off a Florida Beach early Wednesday morning. Thick fog had reduced visibility in the area when the helicopter was on a training mission. (March 11)
Military officials say they have found the main site where a helicopter crashed during a training mission off the Florida coast, killing seven Marines and four soldiers. (March 12)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) -- Human remains washed ashore in heavy fog Wednesday after seven Marines and four soldiers were believed to be killed in an Army helicopter crash during a night-time training mission in Florida.

All 11 service members aboard the Army National Guard's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter were presumed dead, according to a Pentagon official who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity for lack of authority to discuss the incident publicly.

Kim Urr, 62, who works at the Navarre Beach campground near where the helicopter went down, said she heard a strange sound followed by two explosions around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"It sounded like something metal either being hit or falling over, that's what it sounded like. And there were two booms afterward, similar to what you hear with ordnance booms, but more muffled," Urr said.

"We knew immediately that something was not right. We listened for sirens, but there were no sirens. Then this morning, we heard a lot of sirens," she added.

President Barack Obama spoke with the military leaders involved Wednesday and said he's confident there will be a detailed and thorough investigation. He also expressed his condolences to the families and fellow service members of those killed, his spokesman, Josh Earnest, said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families as the search and rescue continues," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Capitol Hill.

Despite the presumption of death and the discovery of human remains, the military still considers it a rescue mission, said Sara Vidoni, a military spokeswoman for Eglin Air Force Base, outside Pensacola.

Fog reduced visibility to less than two miles when the copter went missing Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service, and it remained so heavy Wednesday morning that search boats just offshore could be heard but not seen, blasting horns as their crews peered into the water.

About a dozen airmen wearing fatigues walked shoulder-to-shoulder down the beach meanwhile, scanning the sand. Civilian law enforcement and rescue crews including searchers with dogs and dozens of boats joined the effort.

The Coast Guard said debris was first spotted about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, and that the search area later expanded to a 17-mile stretch of the narrow sound separating Santa Rosa Island from the Florida Panhandle mainland.

The Marines were part of a special operations group based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The National Guard soldiers were from a unit based in Hammond, Louisiana. None were immediately identified so that families could be told first.

The Army helicopter had taken off from an airport in nearby Destin to join other aircraft in the training area, which includes 20 miles of pristine beachfront under military control since before World War II.

The military sometimes drops trainees into the water in the area, to make their way ashore from boats or helicopters.

Test range manager Glenn Barndollar told The AP in August that the site is an ideal training area for special operations units from all branches of the military to practice over the water, on the beach and in the bay.

More in the news:
Jury in marathon bombing trial sees photos of note in boat
Hunt on for man caught on video grabbing Washington toddler
Ferguson city manager out after Justice Department report

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.