4 Coast Guardsmen hurt in helicopter crash near Petersburg

A helicopter in the sky
A U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter flies over Juneau, Alaska, on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. (Mikko Wilson/KTOO)

Four U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew members were injured in a crash Monday evening as they responded to a flooding fishing vessel near Petersburg.

According to an initial Facebook post from the Coast Guard, the HH-60 Jayhawk crashed at about 10:40 p.m. Monday on Read Island in Farragut Bay, about 22 miles northwest of Petersburg. Two crew members were severely injured in the crash, and the other two suffered only minor injuries. 

The crew of the downed Jayhawk were on their way from Air Station Sitka to assist the Lydia Marie, a commercial crabbing vessel, which was taking on water near Farragut Bay.

After the helicopter crash, the Coast Guard cutters Elderberry and Douglas Denman responded to the flooding vessel. At the time of the initial response, the crew of the Lydia Marie had contained the flooding to a manageable level.

Several agencies, including Petersburg Search and Rescue and EMS, came to assist the downed helicopter. Air Station Sitka sent another helicopter to take all four crew members to Petersburg Medical Center. They were later flown to Seattle for additional medical care. 

Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer First Class Shannon Kearney said Tuesday that no preliminary information was available on the cause of the crash.

“We are working to launch a full investigation,” Kearney said. “Any information that we get from the investigation, we’ll be forthcoming with.”

Petersburg Search and Rescue volunteers reported strong winds and snowfall in the area. According to the National Weather Service, there was reduced visibility across the area from rain and snow storms, as well as wind speeds that reached up to 45 mph.

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