BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard spent hours searching the waters off Louisiana for four people aboard a helicopter that crashed Thursday while leaving an oil platform.
“It’s always a difficult decision to suspend a search,” the Lt. Col. said. Kevin Keefe, Coast Guard Division New Orleans Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator. It was unclear whether the search would continue Friday morning.
The helicopter pilot and three oil workers went down in the Gulf of Mexico at around 8:40 a.m. CST, said Petty Officer Jose Hernandez, a spokesman for the New Orleans-based Coast Guard’s 8th District.
“So far, we’ve only found debris, not people,” Hernandez said. Photos of the debris released by the Coast Guard showed a cluster of cylindrical yellow objects floating in the water.
One of the missing workers was David Scarborough, 36, of Lizana, Mississippi, according to his wife Lacey Scarborough. She told the Herald Sun they were pregnant and her husband was recently promoted.
She said her family was praying that her husband and others were rescued safely.
“He loves his job and his colleagues,” she said.
Crews by boat and helicopter searched for eight hours, covering an area and area of approximately 180 square miles (460 square kilometers).
Hernandez said weather did not appear to be a factor in the crash, as there were no reports of storms in the area on Thursday.
The helicopter went down about 10 miles (16 kilometers) offshore from the Southwest Passage, a waterway at the mouth of the Mississippi River southeast of New Orleans. Helicopters routinely transport workers to and from oil platforms in the Gulf.
The oil platform is operated by Houston-based Walter Oil & Gas, Hernandez said. The Associated Press reached out to a spokesman for the company, but he was not immediately available for comment.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the accident.
The Coast Guard rescued three people two weeks ago after a helicopter crashed off the Louisiana coast while trying to land on an oil rig. The crash occurred on Dec. 15, south of Terrebonne Bay and about 60 miles (97 kilometers) west of the area the Coast Guard searched Thursday.
Associated Press writer Russ Bynum in Savannah, Ga., contributed to this story.
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