Coast Guard suspends search for 12 Marines aboard two copters that crashed off Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — The Coast Guard suspended a massive search for 12 Marines who have been missing since two helicopters crashed off Hawaii.

The search for survivors was called off Tuesday afternoon after nearly five days of round-the-clock searching involving multiple agencies.

The search began late Thursday when a civilian on a beach reported seeing the helicopters flying and then a fireball.

The Marines were alerted when the helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base following a nighttime training mission. Hours later, the Coast Guard spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu.

All four life rafts that were aboard the helicopters were later found empty.

The Coast Guard initially reported that the choppers had collided, but the Marines said later it's not yet known if there was a collision.

"A decision to suspend searching without finding survivors is extremely difficult given the depth of its impact. ... Our thoughts and prayers are with Marine Corps helicopter squadron and particularly with families and loved ones of those missing," said Coast Guard Capt. Jim Jenkins in a written statement.

When the search officially ends at sunset Tuesday in Hawaii, a total of 130 rescue personnel will have covered 40,530 nautical square miles, an area about the size of Kentucky, in a 115-hour search effort, the Coast Guard said.

The 12 missing Marines and their helicopters were on a training flight. No mayday call was received, just word that something had gone wrong, the Coast Guard said.


"There is no indication from the sightings that any survivors have been aboard any of the life rafts," the Coast Guard said after four days of searching.

A Navy ship equipped with sonar arrived Sunday and conducted an underwater search. No additional debris was sighted. Searchers overlapped each others' areas to provide multiple perspectives.

The Coast Guard asked people along the coast to alert the Marines if they found any debris. The area is a popular surfing destination, and surfers were told to avoid any debris in the water to prevent injuries.

Corps names Marines

The Marine Corps has named the 12 missing men. Base Hawaii named them as:

Maj. Shawn M. Campbell, 41, College Station, Texas

Capt. Brian T. Kennedy, 31, Philadelphia

Capt. Kevin T. Roche, 30, St. Louis

Capt. Steven R. Torbert, 29, Florence, Alabama

Sgt. Dillon J. Semolina, 24, Chaska, Minnesota

Sgt. Adam C. Schoeller, 25, Gardners, Pennsylvania

Sgt. Jeffrey A. Sempler, 22, Woodruff, South Carolina

Sgt. William J. Turner, 25, Florala, Alabama

Cpl. Matthew R. Drown, 23, Spring, Texas

Cpl. Thomas J. Jardas, 22, Fort Myers, Florida

Cpl. Christopher J. Orlando, 23, Hingham, Massachusetts

Lance Cpl. Ty L. Hart, 21, Aumsville, Oregon