ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Coast Guard says it rescued one survivor of a helicopter crash near a bay in southeast Alaska and is searching for three others.
The 14-year-old survivor was flown to Sitka on Friday night by a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew transferred to paramedics. He displayed signs of mild hypothermia but was reported to be in good condition.
The crash happened near Lituya Bay, about 120 miles northwest of Juneau, officials said.
Two adults and two adolescents were aboard the crashed helicopter that was reported to be brand new out of the factory, according to the Coast Guard.
The agency declined to identify them. However, family friend Jeff Brodsky said two of the missing victims were Josh Pepperd, of Anchorage, and his son Andrew, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Pepperd’s son Aiden was found, Brodsky said.
"We are holding onto hope that a miracle will happen," said Brodsky, who said he has been in touch with family and friends gathered at the hospital where Aiden was taken for treatment.
Pepperd owns Davis Constructors and Engineers, a leading Alaska contractor based in Anchorage.
In 2004, Coast Guard petty officer Nathan Bruckenthal and two U.S. Navy sailors were killed while intercepting a suicide bomber off the coast of Iraq.
The helicopter was on a trip that began in Grand Prairie, Texas, bound for Wasilla, Alaska.
The Coast Guard command center in Juneau received an overdue aircraft alert at about 6:30 p.m. Friday from the Juneau Flight Service Station. The private helicopter had been expected to reach Yakutat on Friday but had not arrived, the alert said.
Clint Johnson, chief of the National Transportation Safety Board in Alaska, said the agency is sending investigators to the crash site.
“We understand they found wreckage in shallow water,” Johnson said. “This is an active search and rescue at this point.”
The Coast Guard rescue helicopter flew to the last known signal of a GPS locator. The crew landed on the beach about three miles east of Lituya Bay.
There the crew’s rescue swimmer found the boy.
“We did not locate any other survivors tonight but the Coast Guard and others will conduct a thorough search Saturday,” said Lt. Kellen Browne, helicopter co-pilot for Friday’s rescue, in written Saturday update sent to Navy Times.
The Coast Guard ordered a second MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew to search throughout Saturday for the survivors. They were joined by a Civil Air Patrol crew from Juneau.
The Coast Guard cutter Bailey Barco left Ketchikan to search the water near the crash and their small boat crew also scanned the shoreline.