The five sailors, all assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, were identified as Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California; Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia; Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland; and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri. Their bodies all remain missing.
On Saturday, the U.S Navy declared all five deceased, shifting from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations after more than 72 hours of coordinated rescue efforts encompassing 34 search and rescue flights, over 170 hours of flight time, with five search helicopters and constant surface vessel search.
The sailors were riding in a MH-60S helicopter “conducting routine flight operations” from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) when the aircraft crashed into the sea approximately 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego at 4:30 p.m. PST, Aug. 31, the U.S. Navy 3rd Fleet said.
A sixth sailor aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash was rescued later that same day and has since been transported ashore in stable condition. In addition to the five missing from the helicopter, Navy officials disclosed that another five were injured on the ship when the aircraft operating on the deck crashed into the sea.
Units involved in search and rescue efforts included assets from Coast Guard District 11, Abraham Lincoln, USS Cincinnati (LCS 20), and helicopter squadrons from the U.S. Pacific Fleet Helicopter Sea Combat Wing and Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing. An investigation into the incident is underway.