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Helicopter rotor struck carrier deck before crash off San Diego coast, Navy says

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Posted at 2:52 PM, Sep 07, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The Navy released details Tuesday on the chain of events leading up to a helicopter crash in the waters off San Diego one week ago, injuring several sailors and leaving five other sailors presumed dead.

The Navy said an MH-60S helicopter was conducting routine flight operations from the USS Abraham Lincoln on Tuesday, Aug. 31, when it crashed into the sea roughly 60 nautical miles off the San Diego coast around 4:30 p.m.

The helicopter reportedly touched down on the flight deck and "experienced side-to-side vibrations" that caused the main rotor to strike the deck and fall over the side of the aircraft carrier, according to a mishap summary by the U.S. Navy’s Safety Center.

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One sailor was recovered after the crash and five other sailors were injured while on deck. Those five sailors were last reported in stable condition.

Five other sailors who were aboard the aircraft at the time of the crash were declared dead on Saturday as the Navy moved from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations. Those sailors were identified as:

  • Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California
  • Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia
  • Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia
  • Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland
  • Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri

Following the news, Navy Commander Daniel J. Thomas posted the following statement:

"Today, I am saddened to inform you the search for five of our Eightballers missing at sea has officially ended. No word of condolence can truly fill the hole left by the loss of these Sailors and Officers. We have gone through a great deal together in the last year and through it all we have proven to be not only a tight-knit squadron, but a family. There is no easy way to process the loss of a family member, just know that you do not walk this path alone.

Please join me in lifting our affected families up in thoughts, in prayer, and with continued support. They are, and will always be, a part of the Eightballer family. We are planning a memorial service to remember and honor our departed Eightballers and I will continue to provide updates to you as we solidify these details. Additional counseling, religious, and medical services are available to any Sailor struggling.

Each and every member of this squadron is integral to our team; someone who is appreciated and esteemed as a part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight. I’ve said this before, and I will stand behind it as long as I have the privilege of being the Skipper, every Sailor is a valuable member of the crew and we are all in this together.

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. If there is anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask. Continue to fight for and take care of each other."