Coast Guard Helicopter Crashes in Utah Mountains

By: Mike Stark AP Email
By: Mike Stark AP Email

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A Coast Guard helicopter crashed Wednesday
morning in remote Utah mountains after providing security at the Winter Olympics, and three people were airlifted to local hospitals, officials said.

One person was in critical condition and two others were in serious condition, said Sgt. Jeremy Hales of the Wasatch County sheriff's office. Two others sustained minor injuries and were being brought out with the help of snowmobiles, he said.

The HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter was one of two traveling through the area en route to home base in Elizabeth City, N.C., after performing security duty at the Vancouver Games, said Dan Dewell, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's 11th District in Alameda, Calif.

The helicopters made a refueling stop in Salt Lake City - one of several required for the long trip - and were headed to Leadville, Colo., when the crash occurred. The co-pilot used a cell phone to call the other helicopter, Dewell said.

Det. Ron Bridge of the Summit County sheriff's department also said at least one crew member from the downed helicopter was communicating via text message but communications were difficult
because of the terrain.

The helicopter went down in a remote, wooded area accessible only by snowmobile, Hales said.

The second helicopter spotted the wreckage but had to refuel before it returned to pick up two of the casualties, according to Lt. Col. Susan Romano, of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Panama City, Fla.

They were taken to University Hospital at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Hales said one was undergoing surgery.

Another helicopter took a third crew member to a hospital in Murray.

Dewell said Coast Guard officials didn't have any information about why the helicopter may have gone down.

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