U.S. Coast Guard Recovers 3 Bodies from Downed Helicopter

A U.S. Coast Guard crew has recovered three bodies in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 60 miles south of Galveston, Texas. A fourth body was located but was unable to be safely recovered due to the heavy sea conditions.

The Coast Guard Cutter Manta remained on scene throughout the night, along with several other commercial vessels, to continue searching for possible survivors from the missing helicopter.

Miscellaneous pieces of debris, as well as a life jacket stenciled with the words "Property of Era," were located in the same area where the four bodies were found.

Throughout the day on Wednesday, crews from three Coast Guard aviation units, six commercial aircraft, a plane from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Coast Guard Cutter Manta and several commercial vessels searched a 2,800 square-mile area.

The Era Aviation, Inc., S-76 Sikorsky helicopter departed Scholes Field in Galveston at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, bound for the Discoverer Spirit, an 835-foot drillship owned by Transocean. The helicopter was last heard from at 7:12 p.m. Tuesday when it was about 90 miles south of Galveston.

Weather conditions on Wednesday were 16-knot winds and six-to-eight foot seas.

Names of those aboard the helicopter are being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.

The Manta is an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Freeport, Texas. HU-25 Falcon rescue jet crews from Aviation Training Center, Mobile, Ala., and Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as an HH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter from Air Station Houston searched throughout the day.