The Coast Guard Issues Report on 2010 Helicopter Crash

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by Russ Slaten

Nearly two years ago tragedy struck when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crashed off the coast of Washington State, killing three of the four crewmen. A final action memo, released today by the Coast Guard, summarizes the key findings of the investigation, and recommended actions.

The Coast Guard's final report on the fatal 2010 crash finds that lack of communication in the aircraft and a failure by the pilot and co-pilot to properly perform their duties contributed to the crash.

Three Coast Guard members--Lieutenant Sean Krueger, AMT1 Adam Hoke and AMT2 Brett Banks--lost their lives when a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk Helicopter flying from Oregon to their base in Sitka struck power lines near the Washington coast. Co-Pilot Lieutenant Lance Leone was the only survivor.

The report from Vice Commandant Sally Brice-O'Hara says the lack of markings on the power lines and the pilots' lack of communication may have contributed to the accident.

Additionally, the pilot's decision to divert from the designated flight path and fly at low-altitudes, something that may have become habitual even when the conditions did not require it, may have also contributed.

The report directs 16 actions, including an assessment of low-level flying policies, along with an audit to ensure Coast Guard-maintained power lines and towers are properly marked.

"Our prayers continue to be with those family and friends who were impacted by this event. We honour the memory of those aviators by carrying out the directed actions from the vice commandant to help prevent future accidents," said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Chris O'Neil.

Co-Pilot Lieutenant Leone faced charges of negligent homicide amongst others, but were recently dismissed.