The U.S. Coast Guard and state and local agencies were searching Tuesday for two people reported to have been aboard a private helicopter that went down in the Albemarle Sound.
Someone who identified themselves as a concerned friend advised Coast Guard officials Monday they had lost all communication with two people aboard a Robinson R44 helicopter at 6:40 p.m. They had departed from Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport in Broadnax, Virginia, on Monday and planned to land at the Dare County Regional Airport that evening, the Coast Guard said.
The Coast Guard launched boats and aircraft to search the Albemarle Sound where the helicopter was last observed. Petty Officer Steve Lehmann said the Coast Guard’s search continued Monday night.
Tuesday morning, a Coast Guard helicopter aircrew discovered debris in the water near the Alligator River Bridge that crosses the Albemarle Sound. Lehmann said later on Tuesday the debris discovered “was enough to identify it as the missing helicopter.”
About an hour before the discovery of the debris, a civilian found a backpack containing personal belongings approximately 3.5 miles south of the mouth of the Alligator River, the Coast Guard said.
Asked if the Coast Guard could release the names of the two men aboard the helicopter, Lehmann referred a reporter to the Tyrrell Sheriff’s Office. The Tyrrell sheriff could not be reached Tuesday.
Lehmann said the Coast Guard planned to continue the search Tuesday evening. Other boats participating in the search planned to be off the water at 8 p.m., according to radio traffic.
Other agencies searching for the downed helicopter include the N.C. Marine Patrol, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Tyrrell Sheriff’s Office.