Weather conditions delay recovery effort of military plane after fatal crash in Chincoteague Bay

CHINCOTEAGUE ISLAND, Va. –  Poor weather on Thursday prevented a joint task force of US coast Guard, Navy, and Maryland and Virginia Agencies from being able to remove the military aircraft that crashed into the Chincoteague Bay, killing one of the three-member crew and sending two to area hospitals.

According to Captain Sam Stevens of the US Coast Guard, the plane fell in an area about a 20-minute boat ride away from shore, in an area about 4 feet deep. Navy Commander Christopher Moran, who was leading the recovery efforts, tells us the plane poses an environmental risk as fuel still in the aircraft fuel tank has the potential to spill. He tells us based on the surveillance conducted Thursday, that has not yet happened.

“We are not seeing any evidence of the fuel leaking it seems to be intact, and it’s incredibly important to the navy to recover this multi-million dollar asset first and foremost to make sure we can adequately investigate the cause of this mishap which is incredibly important to us and to the family of our fallen shipmate,” Commander Moran said.

The deceased crew member was attempted to be rescued by multiple Maryland fire departments including the Ocean City, Stockton, and Salisbury fire and dive teams. The call came in around 8 p.m. Wednesday night of three crew members in the water, two outside the aircraft and one still trapped inside, according to Ryan Whittington of the Ocean City Fire Department.

“The Ocean City Fire Department responded with our boat, two divers, and a boat operator and they actually traveled up the bay as it was unclear if it was on Maryland or the Virginia side,” he said.

He tells us divers staged a multi-hour effort attempting to rescue the 3rd crew member, but conditions prevent divers from being able to rescue the crew member.

“One of our Ocean City divers did dive inside the aircraft attempting to rescue the member from the back of the aircraft but the conditions were very tight,” Whittington said.

He tells us the mission was designated as a search and recovery as the night went on, and the body of the crew member was recovered around 11 p.m.

“Trying to make that rescue effort and you realize that you’ve done everything you can and that it is now a recovery and that we lost a member of our US military saddens me,” Whittington told 47 ABC.

According to Navy Commander Moran, a salvage mishap and aviation board investigation are now both underway. He says efforts will continue in the coming days to remove the vessel, and the waters near the down aircraft remain blocked off as it contains sensitive military hardware and information onboard.

Categories: Local News, Maryland, Virginia