Helicopter search efforts now turning to recovery
PENSACOLA, FL - Authorities announced Thursday morning that search efforts for survivors of a military helicopter crash in Florida have shifted to recovery of debris and remains.
Military officials said 11 soldiers, 7 Marines out of Camp Lejeune and 4 National Guard members out of Hammond, were missing and presumed dead after the crash.
A military spokesperson said searchers got a sonar ping off what they believed was the helicopter, and divers found the main body of the wreck shortly after. The military said some human remains had also washed ashore after the crash. Col. Monte Cannon said Thursday that officials are not hopeful any survivors will be found, and that the military is not yet releasing the names of those killed or any details about them.
The Associated Press reported that a family member of one of the victims, a Marine from Wisconsin, identified him as Kerry Kemp. Lora Waraksa said they were notified about her brother-in-law's death overnight. She described Kemp as "proud Marine, a loving husband and most wonderful father." She says her sister and Kemp have a child about 1 year old.
Authorities said the soldiers were taking part in a training exercise in an area with heavy fog late Tuesday when the crash happened. They said a second helicopter involved in the training turned back and landed due to the fog.
A special hotline has been set up for people in the Florida panhandle to call if they find debris washed up on the beach. They've been told not to touch it.