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Navy identifies 5 crewmembers killed in helicopter crash off coast of San Diego

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Posted at 6:54 AM, Sep 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-06 08:54:37-04

SAN DIEGO — The Navy has identified the crewmembers killed after a helicopter crashed off the coast of San Diego during routine flight operations.

The crewmembers were declared dead Saturday as the Navy moved from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations.

The MH-60S helicopter was conducting routine flight operations from the USS Abraham Lincoln when it crashed into the sea roughly 60 nautical miles off the San Diego coast around 4:30 p.m. local time on Aug. 31. The Navy said the helicopter was "operating on deck before crashing into the sea."

One sailor was rescued from the aircraft after the crash. Five other sailors aboard the ship were injured and are "stable."

See the names of those killed below:

Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California

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Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia

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Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia

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Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland

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Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri

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"The transition from search and rescue efforts to recovery operations comes after more than 72 hours of coordinated rescue efforts encompassing 34 search and rescue flights, over 170 hours of flight time, with 5 search helicopters and constant surface vessel search," the Navy said over the weekend.

Commander Daniel J. Thomas posted the following statement on the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight Facebook page.

Today, I am saddened to inform you the search for five of our Eightballers missing at sea has officially ended. No word of condolence can truly fill the hole left by the loss of these Sailors and Officers. We have gone through a great deal together in the last year and through it all we have proven to be not only a tight-knit squadron, but a family. There is no easy way to process the loss of a family member, just know that you do not walk this path alone.

Please join me in lifting our affected families up in thoughts, in prayer, and with continued support. They are, and will always be, a part of the Eightballer family. We are planning a memorial service to remember and honor our departed Eightballers and I will continue to provide updates to you as we solidify these details. Additional counseling, religious, and medical services are available to any Sailor struggling.

Each and every member of this squadron is integral to our team; someone who is appreciated and esteemed as a part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight. I’ve said this before, and I will stand behind it as long as I have the privilege of being the Skipper, every Sailor is a valuable member of the crew and we are all in this together.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. If there is anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to ask. Continue to fight for and take care of each other.

Wishing you continued strength,

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Daniel J. Thomas
​​​​​​​​​​​​​Commander, U.S. Navy
​​​​​​​​​​​​​Commanding Officer

This story was originally published by Zac Self on Scripps station KGTV in San Diego.