UPDATE 3: Guardians rescued from downed helicopter

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A U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk (U.S. Coast Guard file photo)
A U.S. Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk (U.S. Coast Guard file photo)

Five Guardians from Air Station Elizabeth City were rescued this afternoon when their helicopter went down approximately 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah this morning.

The aircraft was one of two Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopters on a cross country flight returning from Olympics security operations in the Pacific Northwest to their home air station.

Three of the five crewmembers were injured in the crash. Two of the injured crew were recovered by the second Coast Guard helicopter. The third injured crew member was recovered by a local MEDEVAC helicopter. The two uninjured crew members remain at the scene with ground rescue crews.

The rescue was a joint operation between the Coast Guard, Air Force and local search and rescue officials.

Click here for video of the crash site and an interview with a local search and rescue coordinator.

UPDATE: Last night the Coast Guard released the names of the crew of the downed helicopter and more details on their injuries. The air crew consisted of Commander Patrick Shaw, Lieutenant Commander Steven Cerveny, Petty Officer 2nd Class Gina Panuzzi, Petty Officer 3rd Class Darren M. Hicks and Petty officer 3rd Class Edward Sychra.

Shaw and Panuzzi were reported to have internal injuries and were taken to the University of Utah Hospital. Cerveny who was reported to have a broken leg was taken to a local hospital. Hicks and Sychra were reported uninjured and were taken from the scene by ground rescue crews.

Air Station Elizabeth City is sending a team of investigators to the scene where an investigation will be conducted Thursday.

As more information becomes available, we’ll share it with you here on the Compass.

UPDATE 2: The three crew members remain hospitalized following the crash of their helicopter on Wednesday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Gina Panuzzi is reported in critical condition. Cdr. Patrick Shaw and Lt. Cdr. Steven Cerveny are reported to be in serious condition.

Yesterday, Rear Admiral Wayne Justice, Coast Guard 5th District commander, expressed his gratitude to the search and rescue crews and medical personnel caring for our Guardians, “I appreciate the support of the Wasatch and Summit County first responders, and I am very relieved to hear that the crewmembers were recovered and are being cared for at the University of Utah Hospital.”

An investigation into the cause of the accident began yesterday.

UPDATE 3: Click here for a video release from Air Station Elizabeth City of the three of the crew members returning home including an interview with the Air Station’s commanding officer.

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