Coast Guard Crew Members Identified – WKRG

An extensive search both on the water and in the water is underway for missing crew members onboard a H-H65-C Dolphin chopper that crashed in Mobile Bay.

The crash happened around 6:30 Tuesday evening roughly two miles southwest of Point Clear.

During a press conference Wednesday morning, Coast Guard Captain Don Rose says helicopters, several Coast Guard vessels and boats from local rescue agencies are aiding in the search. Divers with Daphne Search and Rescue and the Alabama Marine Resources are also participating.

A 57 foot salvage barge, called the Ben R. Johnson, arrived at 4p.m. on Wednesday. Thursday morning the crew will do an initial assessment, once they determine it’s safe, they will begin attempts to recover the fuselage.

The barge is equipped with a large crane. In order to bring the wreckage to the surface, divers will have to put straps around what’s left of the chopper to slowly bring it to the surface. The process will take hours.

Once they bring the wreckage to the surface, the Coast Guard will take it to Brookley Field in Mobile. That’s where pieces of the tail section that were recovered.

Because of the investigation, a temporary flight restriction is in place over a 5 mile area of Eastern Mobile Bay. The no-flight zone ranges from Mon Luis Island, eastward, over to Baldwin County including Point Clear.

Meantime, News 5 has learned the name of two of the missing crew members.

Drew Knight is from Thomasville. Friends are offering their prayers to his family on Facebook.  A high school friend of Knight, Jesse Luker says, “He was always a military type guy. He told me about the Coast guard. He loved it, he loved what he did.” 

Lt. Dale Taylor from North Carolina was also one of the crew members onboard. The 35 year old attended Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile. The church is having a prayer service is his honor at 6 o’clock this evening.

Fernando Jorge is from Cypress, California.  The 39 year old is the crew member who died after being rescued from Mobile Bay. Jorge was a rescue swimmer and has served in the U.S. Coast Guard since he was 19 years old.

We are still working to confirm the name of the other crew member.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is investigating how and why the helicopter went down.

The top Coast Guard official released in an email to fellow Coast Guardsmen saying: “We will conduct a full investigation into this incident to determine the cause. I ask that everyone remain focused on their duties and take deliberate steps to ensure you and your shipmates are standing taut watch.”

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