The U.S. Navy has identified the five members of a flight crew whose helicopter went down on a training flight southwest of San Diego; one of them is from San Diego.
Lt. Cmdr. Eric J. Purvis, 37, called Poway his hometown. The HH60 Seahawk helicopter he was flying in took off from the USS Nimitz and crashed late Tuesday some 13 miles southwest of San Diego and 87 miles from the aircraft carrier.
Also on board the ill-fated chopper was Lt. Allison M. Oubre, 27, of Slidell, La. She graduated from Vanderbuilt University in 2003. Her father told local newspapers she was getting ready to take time off from the Navy next month so she could get married.
Naval Air Crewman 2nd class Aaron Clingman from Bend, Ore., leaves behind his wife, Ashley, and his 10-month-old baby girl, Aiden, who was born last year on the Fourth of July. His father, Lee, said he had just completed a five-year tour as a rescue swimmer and was training on USS Nimitz for another tour.
Naval Air Crewman 3rd Class Sean M. Ward, 20, of Lovelock, Nev., came from a long line of serviceman according to his father Mike Ward. Sean Ward may have been tethered to the back of the helicopter when it crashed, Mike Ward told ktvn.com. "He knew the risks and so did we. He picked something that he loved doing," Ward said.
Sean Ward played football, baseball and basketball in high school and was considered a hero in the small community. ""Honestly, the kind of kid every mom would want her daughter to marry," Pershing County High School teacher Shauna Bake said.
Naval Air Crewman 1st Class Samuel "Grant" Kerslake, 41, of Hot Springs, Ark., was also on the ill-fated flight.
The bodies of three of the crewmembers were recovered shortly after the crash. Rescue efforts for the two missing members were called off Thursday because, officials said, it was unlikely the pair could have survived more than 36 hours in the ocean after Tuesday night's crash. The Navy has not yet said which crew members' bodies were recovered.
"The Navy's search efforts are now focused on the feasibility of salvage operations," said a news release issued by the Navy late Thursday. Navy search and salvage specialists will continue searching for the wreckage of the HH-60 Seahawk 13 miles southwest of San Diego. Unmanned underwater vehicles were used Thursday to explore the sea bottom.
The lost aircraft was with Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 6, which is part of Carrier Air Wing 11 assigned to the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. The crew was off the coast of Southern California participating in maneuvers at the time of the crash, officials reported.