2 bodies found in Gulf of Mexico crash search area
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A dive team found two bodies Thursday in the area being searched for a helicopter that sank a day earlier, but it was not clear whether the bodies were those of the helicopter's two occupants, the Coast Guard said.
Officials with the helicopter's owner, Westwind Helicopters Inc. of Santa Fe, Texas, confirmed recovery of the bodies in a statement Thursday.
"Two people, the pilot and a passenger, were on board and sustained fatal injuries. The deceased have been recovered thanks to the tireless efforts of U.S. Coast Guard first responders and others on the scene," the company said in a statement.
Identities of the deceased were not released. The company said it would release further information Friday.
The helicopter crashed and sank Wednesday afternoon in the Gulf of Mexico about 60 miles south of Terrebonne Bay.
Divers for Epic Divers & Marine of Belle Chasse, which had chartered the dive support vessel Adams Challenge, found the bodies, the company said.
They were asked to help while working for a major operator about 5 miles north of the crash site, said Edwin Goldman, senior vice president of Epic's parent company, Tetra Technologies Inc. of The Woodlands, Texas.
In a news release Wednesday, the Coast Guard said the crew of a nearby rig reported the crash. It says crew members launched a life raft but the aircraft sank before they could get to it.
Westwind serves inland and offshore oil and gas operations, according to the company's website.
"Everyone at Westwind offers their deepest condolences to the families and friends of our pilot and the passenger, and we are keeping those affected in our prayers during this difficult time," the company said.
Westwind is working with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the crash, the statement said.