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Helicopter model that crashed in San Diego County has history of issues

The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest, heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military
Posted at 9:27 PM, Feb 07, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-08 00:27:55-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The type of helicopter used by the Marine Corps that crashed in San Diego County overnight has a history of issues - From emergency landings to deadly crashes.

The CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States Military.

On April 3, 2018, a CH-53E Super Stallion crashed in El Centro, killing four Marines on board.

"It's heartbreaking," Dawn Beckham said when she heard the news about the recent crash in Pine Valley.

Beckham's son, Lance Corporal Taylor Conrad, 24, died in the 2018 crash.

"We called him the baby marine. He had only been in two years, and he was still just loving every minute," said Beckham.

Sitting in her office in Texas, Beckham outlined the parallels between the crash that killed her son and the crash in Pine Valley.

"Being the exact same helicopter, and my son was based in Miramar, and they were headed to Miramar, and it's just a lot of similarities that brings you back to that devastating night," Beckham said.

After the crash in 2018, two of the families filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers and suppliers of certain parts of the helicopter.

"In that case, there was a two-year investigation, and the Marine investigation found that there was a defective part, and we ended up bringing an action directly against the manufacturers and suppliers of that part," said David Casey, Jr., the attorney who represented the families.

The lawsuit was settled a couple of years ago, and the settlement is confidential.

In January 2020, A Marine Corps helicopter made a “precautionary” landing near the I-15 freeway and Highway 76 near Bonsall.

A spokesperson at the time said the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing said the crew of the CH-53E Super Stallion noticed an indicator light in the cockpit, signaling a generator had failed.

Nobody was injured, according to the MAW.

ABC 10News has previously reported other incidents involving the CH-53E Super Stallion.

In January 2002, U.S. officials pointed to mechanical issues for a CH-53E Super Stallion crash that killed two U.S. Marines and injured five others in Afghanistan.

In 2014, the same type of helicopter crashed at sea in the Gulf of Aden. All 25 people on board survived.

In 2016, two CH-53E Super Stallions collided just north of Oahu, prompting a search for 12 missing Marines.

Still, Retired Colonel Eric Buer says the helicopters have a good reputation.

"You know, millions and millions of flight hours on any platform, you're going to have instances of fatigue of the aircraft, and there could be some human factors involved," said Ret. Col. Buer.

The Marine Corps has used the CH-53E since the 1980s. They are expected to be replaced soon.