Navy says helicopter's main rotor hit carrier deck before fatal crash

Navy says helicopter's main rotor hit carrier deck before fatal crash
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The Navy offered new details Wednesday into what led one of its helicopters to crash off the coast of San Diego on Aug. 31, causing the deaths of five sailors. 

In a “mishap summary,” the Naval Safety Center said that the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter touched down on the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier and then "experienced side-to-side vibrations," which caused the main rotor to strike the flight deck. 

The helicopter subsequently fell over the ship’s side, according to Navy Times, which first reported Tuesday’s mishap summary.

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Commander Third Fleet Public Affairs reported that the helicopter had crashed while the Navy members were “conducting routine flight operations” about 60 nautical miles off the coast of San Diego about 4:30 p.m. local time.

The five sailors killed in the crash ranged in age from 21 to 31 years old. One sailor who was on the helicopter was rescued. Five other sailors suffered injuries from the crash, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.

An online fundraiser for the families of the dead sailors has raised $211,000 since it was created last week. 

A retired military rescue pilot told Navy Times that when rotor blades are imbalanced, side-to-side vibrations can happen, but he did not want to comment on how the crash could have happened. 

Lt. Samuel R. Boyle, a spokesperson for the U.S. Third Fleet, told The Hill in a statement that the incident is under investigation.