REGION — A missing helicopter that was carrying five U.S. Marines from Nevada to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar was located this morning, and authorities were searching a remote area of Pine Valley in an attempt to locate the crew.
The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter departed from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada on Tuesday and was last heard from around 11:30 p.m.
“The aircraft was located by civil authorities in Pine Valley, California at 9:08 AM PST,” military officials reported Wednesday. “… The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing is managing search and rescue efforts through the Wing Operations Command Center and using ground and aviation assets to locate the aircrew in coordination with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and multiple federal, state and local agencies.”
Cal Fire San Diego crews on three fire engines and an ambulance launched a search north of Interstate 8 and east of Kitchen Creek Road near Fred Canyon in the early morning hours Wednesday based on the helicopter’s last known location, Cal Fire spokesman Mike Cornette told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
“We made access to the coordinates but it was snowing outside and difficult to access,” Cornette said. “We searched around different locations there and went as far as we could on different roads, but it was really snowy and wet and muddy.”
Creech Air Force Base is about 400 miles away from San Diego.
A sheriff’s helicopter was sent to the area in the Cleveland National Forest early Wednesday but couldn’t reach it because of stormy weather. The department sent off-road vehicles to the area where the helicopter was last reported.
The Marines were assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The CH-53E is a heavy-lift helicopter often used for transporting troops and equipment from shore to shore as well as for amphibious assaults, logistics and maintenance.