12 Missing Marines Declared Dead
Search off Oahu has been called off after 5 days
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 22, 2016 9:25 AM CST
   (Cpl. Ricky Gomez)
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(Newser) – The Marine Corps says the 12 Marines who were in two helicopters that crashed off Hawaii are considered dead. The status of the missing Marines changed to deceased on Wednesday after five days of searching for them, and the Marine Corps says casualty assistance calls officers personally notified each family of the change. The search and rescue mission, which was slowed down by storms, had encompassed about 40,000 square nautical miles of ocean, Reuters notes.

The search began late Jan. 14 after a civilian on a beach reported seeing the aircraft flying and then a fireball; Reuters says the choppers reportedly collided just before midnight. The Marines were alerted when the CH-53E helicopters carrying six crew members each failed to return to their base at Kaneohe Bay following a nighttime training mission. Hours later, a Coast Guard helicopter and C-130 airplane spotted debris 2 1/2 miles off of Oahu. No distress call had been issued by either copter, per Reuters. The Marines were from various states and ranged in age from 21 to 41.