3 helicopter passengers survive crash into Gulf off Port O'Connor


June 10, 2010 at 1:10 a.m.

PORT O'CONNOR - All three people aboard a helicopter survived a crash into the Gulf of Mexico Thursday morning, a U.S. Coast Guard official said.

One of the passengers sustained minor injuries in the crash that occurred 43 miles off the coast of Port O'Connor, said Senior Chief Michael Jennings, the U.S. Coast Guard officer in charge at the Port O'Connor station.

"At this point in time, we don't know exactly what caused the helicopter crash," Jennings said. "That portion of the incident is currently under investigation."

Names of the passengers were not released because of the ongoing investigation.

The passengers were inside a Petroleum Helicopter Inc. chopper, a Bell 206, one of many used to take workers from shore to oil rigs at sea and back.

It is unknown if the helicopter was headed to sea or returning to shore.

The U.S. Coast Guard station in Port O'Connor received word of the crash at 10:40 a.m., at which point it launched a 41-foot utility boat to search for and rescue the passengers, Jennings said.

"Less than 20 minutes later, we received a call that an offshore supply vessel had picked up and recovered all three personnel from the helicopter," he said.

The victims were on board the private boat within 15 minutes of the crash, Jennings said.

They were transported to another oil platform. They were then airlifted back to the mainland for examination of minor injuries, he said.

The owner of the private vessel, named OSV Callie Jean, could not be retrieved through a search of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's online boat ownership inquiry system.

Calls to the press office of the helicopter company - headquartered in Lafayette, La. - were not returned.



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