The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies continued their search on Wednesday for two persons who went missing after the private helicopter they were aboard went down in the Albemarle Sound on Monday.
Petty Officer Steve Lehmann of the U.S. Coast Guard said there were no new details or developments about the missing persons or the helicopter.
The Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the crash, appeared to suggest Wednesday that a body had been found in the wreckage. But Lehmann said no bodies have been recovered and the search for the two missing persons continues.
Coast Guard boats and aircraft, along with vessels from N.C. Marine Patrol, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office, continue to comb areas of the Albemarle Sound where authorities believe the helicopter went down. Divers are also assisting in the search, but Lehmann didn’t know which agency they work for.
The Coast Guard reported Tuesday that someone who identified themselves as a “concerned friend” said they had lost all communication with two people aboard a Robinson R44 helicopter Monday at 6:40 p.m. At the time, the helicopter was en route to the Dare County Regional Airport from the Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport in Broadnax, Virginia.
The Coast Guard launched boats and aircraft to search where the helicopter was last observed but it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that debris from helicopter was discovered. Lehmann said the debris, discovered in water near the Alligator Bridge that crosses the sound, “was enough to identify it as the missing helicopter.”
Lehmann said where the searchers are looking depends on a number of environmental factors, including wind direction, drift patterns and which way the water is flowing.
How long the search will go on will depend on factors like water temperature, the safety equipment the helicopter had onboard, and the time someone can rationally spend in the water and survive, he said.
“The thing we always have to consider is the human will to survive,” Lehmann said. “We’ve found people floating on Yeti coolers in the Gulf of Mexico.”
While other agencies were scheduled to stop their search around sunset, Lehmann said the Coast Guard would continue to have a search presence in the sound overnight.
Asked if the Coast Guard could release the names of the two people aboard the helicopter, Lehmann said he did not have their names. He referred a reporter to the Tyrrell Sheriff’s Office. Tyrrell sheriff’s officials could not be reached Tuesday or Wednesday.