A United States Navy helicopter operating from the flight deck of an aircraft carrier crashed 60 miles off the coast of San Diego, California on August 31, 2021. Five Navy Sailors died and five other people on the flight deck sustained injuries in the military accident. One person was rescued from the chopper, authorities say.
The MH-60S Seahawk helicopter was conducting “routine flight operations” when it landed on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. The helicopter reportedly “experienced vibrations” before the main rotor struck the flight deck and the chopper crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The incident happened at approximately 4:30 p.m. local time, according to a Navy press release.
Officials rescued one survivor from the downed helicopter. Five other occupants were listed as missing until days later when the Navy called off the search. The Navy declared the missing Sailors as deceased on September 4. No remains have been found.
The MH-60S helicopter was assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC). All of the victims were from the Navy’s Third Fleet.
Military Helicopter Crash Lawyer
Lawyers from the national law firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman have decades of experience representing victims of aviation accidents, including those harmed in military helicopter crashes.
Learn more about our military helicopter crash cases below:
On February 27, 2019, an MH-6M “Little Bird” helicopter crashed in Kentucky during a training flight, injuring two. Baum Hedlund represents both victims of this aviation accident.
On April 17, 2017, a Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopter crashed near Leonardtown, Maryland, killing one U.S. Army Soldier and injuring two others. Baum Hedlund represents the family of the deceased and both injured victims in cases.
On March 16, 2013, a Kiowa Warrior OH-58D military helicopter crashed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The incident tragically killed two Army soldiers. Our firm represented the families of both soldiers in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of defective parts in the helicopter’s engine.
On August 8, 2011, an AH-6M “Little Bird” military helicopter crash at Fort Benning, Georgia, killed two Army soldiers. Our firm represented the family of one of the deceased, Chief Warrant Officer Steven Redd, a decorated combat veteran.
Helicopter crash attorney and Marine Corps veteran Timothy A. Loranger leads the firm’s military accident litigation team. Tim’s passion for aviation started when he was a young man and continued to grow during his years of service in the Marine Corps. He worked as an aircraft mechanic at Marine Corps and Navy Air Stations in California, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.
Now as a civilian, Tim’s passion for aviation continues both as a pilot and in the courtroom as an attorney and advocate for those injured or killed in preventable military accidents.
Navy Identifies the Five Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) Victims from Third Fleet
The Navy identified the deceased victims as:
- Lt. Bradley A. Foster, 29, a pilot from Oakhurst, California
- Lt. Paul R. Fridley, 28, a pilot from Annandale, Virginia
- Naval Air Crewman (Helicopter) 2nd Class James P. Buriak, 31, from Salem, Virginia
- Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Sarah F. Burns, 31, from Severna Park, Maryland
- Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Bailey J. Tucker, 21, from St. Louis, Missouri
About the MH-60S Helicopter
The Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk helicopter utilizes a twin turboshaft engine. A multi-mission Navy helicopter based on the Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk and a member of the Sikorsky S-70 family, the MH-60S replaced the Navy’s aging fleet of H-46D choppers. According to the Aviation Safety Network, 12 MH-60s have crashed since 2007. Three of these crashes were fatal, including the most recent off the coast of San Diego.
What Caused the MH-60S Helicopter Crash Near San Diego?
A report listing the official cause of the MH-60S Seahawk Helicopter Crash in San Diego will likely take a year or more to complete. The Navy is conducting the crash investigation.
In a report titled ‘Class A Flight Mishaps’ issued in September of 2021, the Navy indicated that the MH-60S helicopter “[e]xperienced side-to-side vibrations causing main rotor to strike flight deck.”
According to military accident lawyer Timothy A. Loranger, the Navy investigation will likely look for the possibility of:
- Mechanical Failure
- Maintenance Problems
- Pilot Error
- Wind and Weather Conditions
Loranger adds that other issues could have factored into this tragedy, including movement of the aircraft carrier in the water, which may have affected the landing.
Get the Help You Need from Helicopter Crash Attorneys with Proven Track Record
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is a national law firm with years of experience representing military families in lawsuits stemming from helicopter crashes. Our attorneys have litigated numerous cases against some of the largest aviation companies in the world, obtaining justice and compensation for military service members and their families.
Under the Feres Doctrine, active duty service members cannot pursue claims against the United States government for damages stemming from a military accident. However, if a third party’s negligence contributed to the aviation accident, service members may bring a lawsuit against the third party.