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Navy, Coast Guard suspend search for sailor missing in chopper crash

Coast Guard and U.S. Navy officials announced Thursday that they had suspended their search for a sailor who was missing after a Navy helicopter crashed into the sea off Virginia, killing two and injuring two others.

The five crew members on the MH-53E Sea Dragon were on a training mission Wednesday when the helicopter went down. Officials searched about 33 hours for the missing sailor, whose name was not released. 

In a statement Thursday, Navy officials identified the two dead sailors as Lt. J. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, N.C., and Naval Aircrewman Brian Andrew Collins, 25, of Truckee, Calif.

One injured crew member has been released from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and the other remained hospitalized in "good condition," according to the Navy statement. Their identities were not released.

The Coast Guard and the Navy searched 620 square nautical miles to try to find the crew member in frigid, 40-degree waters, spokesman Brandyn Hill told the Los Angeles Times.

Once a person goes missing, Hill said, the Coast Guard evaluates several factors -- including a person's physical condition, the equipment he or she was wearing, air temperature and water temperature -- to determine the person's survival rate. The sailor was wearing a suit designed to ward off hypothermia for a time. 

"When the likelihood of finding a person alive declines, the Coast Guard makes a hard decision to suspend active search efforts," Hill said.

Hill said the Coast Guard would remain on scene alongside the Navy in case further assistance was needed.

Navy officials said the cause of the crash was still being investigated.

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Twitter: @saba_h

saba.hamedy@latimes.com

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