Search and rescue crews are combing heavy fog in the Navarre Beach area for 11 military personnel presumed dead after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed nearby overnight.
Eglin officials said the crash took place during a regular training mission at area A-17, located just east of Navarre, around 8:30 p.m.
Eglin officials said two copters were assigned to the Army National Guard in Hammond, Louisiana, and one copter returned to the base with all personnel on board.
The other aircraft, carrying four Army National Guard crew members and seven Marines stationed at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, crashed.
Debris from the crash was located around 2 a.m., and some bodies have been recovered. Pentagon officials report all 11 on board are presumed dead.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Marines, soldiers and family members of those involved in this mishap. We are working closely with all parties involved to locate our Marines and the Army aircrew as soon as possible,” Major Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, said in a release.
Gov. Rick Scott also issued a statement this morning:
“Today, we are saddened to learn that a Louisiana Army National Guard helicopter carrying seven marines and four soldiers crashed during a training exercise near Eglin Air Force Base. I reached out to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal today to offer any resources they may need during this tragic time. Florida National Guard Adjutant General Major General Emmett Titshaw also spoke with the Louisiana National Guard today to offer resources they may need during their search. Florida Fish and Wildlife officers immediately responded to the crash and are actively engaged in search efforts. Every day, members of our armed forces put their lives on the line to protect our state and our nation and we cannot thank them enough for their service. Ann and I join all Floridians and Americans to pray for those involved in the crash and their families.”
U.S. Coast Guard and Eglin AFB personnel are being joined in search and rescue and recovery efforts by crews from:
Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office
Santa Rosa CERT
Skyline Fire Department
Hurlburt Field Fire Department
Santa Rosa County Emergency Management
Holley-Navarre Fire Rescue
City of Niceville Fire Department
Escambia-Santa Rosa Search and Rescue
Midway Fire Rescue
Support crews are also on scene from the City of Gulf Breeze and the City of Niceville. Additional the Navarre’s CERT, community emergency response team, has volunteers aiding the effort.
Navarre Press is on scene at Navarre Park and will be posting more details as this story develops