February 20, 1998 in Nation/World

Searchers Find Fifth Victim Of Navy Copter Crash

Associated Press

Searchers on Thursday found a fifth victim of a Navy helicopter crash, dashing hopes the crew member might have been safely dropped off prior to the accident.

A Navy surgeon confirmed the body was found in central California’s Kern River Canyon more than a day after the Huey helicopter crashed during a search and rescue training flight, sheriff’s Lt. Ernest Cowan said.

The other four victims were found at the crash site Wednesday.

The helicopter was headed west from China Lake Naval Air Station when it apparently clipped a power line near Johnsondale, about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

The power line, still down Thursday, runs across the Kern River and a two-lane road.

“We’re assuming (the pilot) hooked those wires up there and slammed down,” Cowan said. “He’s down, and the wire is down. I think that’s a pretty safe assumption.”

After finding only four bodies at the scene, rescue teams hoped the fifth crew member might have survived. Some residents said they thought they saw a flare Wednesday night, but efforts to find it were futile.

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