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Navy Recovers Remains of Missing Pilot From Last Week’s Helo Crash

Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder. US Navy Photo

Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder. US Navy Photo

The Navy recovered the missing pilot from last week’s MH-53E Sea Dragon crash off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va., the service announced late Tuesday.

The body of Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, 39, of Santee Calif. was found by, “divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, operating aboard USNS Grasp (T-ARS-51), located the aircraft’s cockpit late Monday using a remotely operated vehicle and confirmed the presence of remains in the wreckage,” according to the statement.

In total three of the five crew of the helicopter assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 “Vanguard” (HM-14) based at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. died.

Naval Academy graduate Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, N.C. and AW3 Brian Collins, 25, of Truckee, Calif. both died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital following their rescue.

MH-53E Seadragon Assigned to HM-14 Vanguard in 2009. US Navy Photo

MH-53E Seadragon Assigned to HM-14 Vanguard in 2009. US Navy Photo

The two other crewmembers from the helicopter have since been released from the hospital.

A memorial service for the three dead sailors will be held Friday at Naval Station Norfolk, according to the service.

The MH-53E was conducting routine mine countermeasures (MCM) training when the helicopter crashed about 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

MCM helicopter crews have among the most dangerous jobs in the naval aviation community requiring the crew to tow a heavy sensor laden sled to look for sea mines.

It’s yet unclear if the helicopter was towing the sled during the training exercise.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Categories: Aviation, Military Personnel, News & Analysis, Surface Forces, U.S. Navy
Sam LaGrone

About USNI News Editor

Sam LaGrone is the USNI Online Editor at the U.S. Naval Institute.
He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. In his role he covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.
Sam is a 2003 graduate of Virginia Military Institute.