PRESUMED DEAD

Search Called Off for Collision Survivors

The U.S. Coast Guard has called off the search for the nine missing people involved in a midair military aircraft collision, now deeming it a recovery mission. Officials say they no longer believe any of the military personnel could have survived the crash between one Coast Guard plane and a Marine Corps helicopter over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday. There were seven crew members aboard the Sacramento-based Coast Guard HC-130 and two pilots aboard the Camp Pendleton-based AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter when they collided off the coast of San Diego. After scouring a 644-square-mile area for over 63 hours, Commander Joseph Castillo said, “Due to the wreckage we’ve found, the nature of the collision, and the length of time since the crash, we’ve reached the conclusion that survival is no longer viable.” Families of those presumed dead were notified Saturday night. Navy salvage ships will now turn their focus on finding the wreckage and recovering the missing crew members’ bodies, a process Captain Thomas Farris expects will continue for at least a week.