Navy pilot missing after Va. crash identified as Santee man - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Navy pilot missing after Va. crash identified as Santee man

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    Thursday, January 9 2014 10:36 AM EST2014-01-09 15:36:23 GMT
    The search continued Thursday for a sailor who has been missing since a Navy helicopter with five crew members aboard crashed in the ocean off the Virginia coast. 
    The search continued Thursday for a sailor who has been missing since a Navy helicopter with five crew members aboard crashed in the ocean off the Virginia coast. 

SANTEE (CNS/CBS 8) - Hopes are fading fast that 39-year-old Navy Lieutenant Sean Christopher Snyder, a Santee native, will be found alive after a crash over the Atlantic earlier this week.

Snyder, a father of four, was among five sailors aboard the MH-53E Sea Dragon that crashed for unknown reasons around 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to a statement released by Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic.

Within an hour of the crash, the other four sailors were found floating near the wreckage and hoisted from 42-degree waters. Two survived and were taken to a hospital, and two died.

The deceased were identified as Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, N.C., and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Andrew Collins, 25, of Truckee. Van Dorn, like Snyder, was a pilot on the flight and Collins, a crewman.

The aircraft was part of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen based at Naval Station Norfolk.

The Coast Guard and the Navy searched a roughly 500-square-mile area around the crash site by air and sea for more than 30 hours before calling off the active search for Snyder at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the Coast Guard.

In the statement released late Thursday, the Snyder family described him as a "decorated pilot, a man of honor, dedicated husband, and a father, who is proud and grateful for his privilege to serve his country in the United States Navy."

"The Snyders are extremely grateful for the love and support they have received from their friends and their community. They truly appreciate your continued prayers," the statement said.

The Sea Dragon is 99 feet long, weighs up to 34 tons and holds up to two pilots and six crew members. It is typically used for heavy lifting, including the towing of a heavy piece of equipment that is used in mine clearing operations. The Navy said Wednesday's crash occurred during a routine training exercise for mine countermeasures.

A two-day search lasted over 30 hours and covered 660 nautical miles. All of the men were wearing drysuits to help them survive if an emergency crash into the ocean happened during routine exercises.

Neighbors in Santee have told CBS News 8 Snyder's father Craig and his stepmother Sandra have left their Santee home and are back with their daughter-in-law and grandchildren in Virginia Beach.

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