Officials have located the wreckage of the Black Hawk helicopter that crashed Tuesday night, and Col. Monte Cannon, 96th Test Wing vice commander, said they don’t believe any of the 11 men on board survived.
“We are transitioning our search and rescue operation to a recovery and accident safety investigation,” he said.
Chief Mark Giuliano, fire chief at Eglin Air Force Base and incident commander for at least the last 24 hours, said they have retrieved remains, but would not disclose additional information. Officials are not releasing the names of those involved in the crash.
The cause of the crash, which was described as “high-impact,” is still unknown. Giuliano said the flight recorder is still in the wreckage, and pieces of the aircraft have washed up on the north side of the Sound.
He said Eglin was notified at 10 p.m. Tuesday and spent the night looking for survivors, but the dense fog hampered the rescue mission. Boaters on scene could not see, and were afraid of running into each other.
Giuliano said a sonar was brought in late yesterday morning and located the aircraft, which was broken into several pieces at the bottom of the sound.
Operations continued Wednesday until about 6 p.m., when water conditions offered almost zero visibility. The operation was called off at 6:30 p.m.
Officials said a salvage unit out of Mobile is expected to arrive in Navarre late this afternoon, or early this evening, but is not expected to work tonight due to weather.
Eglin is handing the site over to the Army, and will work with them while they begin the investigation.
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