Officials scoured the waters off the coast of Hawaii for a second night Wednesday in search of five soldiers who were on board a U.S. Army helicopter Tuesday night when it went down during a training exercise.
Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were conducting a nighttime training mission around 9:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday when one of the helicopters lost contact with the other, according to the 25th Infantry Division. Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard said the helicopter crews were participating in a training exercise between Kaena Point, off the coast of Oahu, and Dillingham Airfield.
A search was immediately launched.
"As we do this work, the soldiers and their families are in the forefront of our minds,” Lt. Col. Curtis Kellogg, a spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, told The Associated Press. “That's what we're doing this for.”
Officials did not identify the soldiers on board the UH-60 when it went down, although Kellogg told the AP the helicopter had two pilots and three crew members on board and that the Army had notified their families.
Police confirmed to East Kentucky Broadcasting that Letcher County, Kentucky, native Abigail Milam was among the missing.
In a news release obtained by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Maj. Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of the 25th Infantry Division, said the families of the missing crew members are being kept up-to-date on the search efforts.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our missing soldiers and their families. They can count on our full support during this difficult time,” Cavoli said. “We are proud of their loved ones’ service and will bring them home.”
Army and Coast Guard officials spotted a debris field just before 11:30 p.m. Tuesday near Oahu’s Kaena Point, according to Coast Guard officials.
Honolulu Fire Department search and rescue crews found and collected pieces of helicopter fuselage and a helmet in a debris field about 2 miles off Kaena Point on Oahu. The search later moved to an area about 5 miles offshore where currents moving in different directions converge.
Officials closed the state park at Kaena Point while the search was underway. Kaena is a remote spot northwest of Honolulu where Oahu's northern and western coasts meet to form a small peninsula. The park's sandy coastline is home to a seabird colony and endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
Multiple agencies have joined the Coast Guard and the Army’s search efforts, including the Navy, Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Ocean Rescue, the Star-Advertiser reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.