Coast Guard: Search for missing helicopter suspended

July 22, 2021 GMT

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search along the North Carolina coast for a helicopter with two men aboard that disappeared near Albemarle Sound during a flight from Virginia.

The search was suspended Wednesday after Coast Guard personnel and partner agencies searched a combined area of 3,303 miles over 38 hours.

A concerned friend notified the Coast Guard Sector North Carolina command center that they had lost communication with the Robinson R44 helicopter around 6:40 p.m. Monday. The Coast Guard said the two unidentified men had left from Mecklenburg Brunswick Regional Airport and were heading for the Dare County Regional Airport.

An aircrew found helicopter debris in Albemarle Sound about nine miles (14 kilometers) north of the Alligator River Bridge, and a civilian recovered a backpack with personal belongings inside south of the mouth of the Alligator River, according to the news release.

Sector North Carolina Chief of Response Cmdr. Corrie Sergent said they coordinated a robust search effort by air and water and suspending a search is one of the hardest decisions they make.