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Sheriff Locates Navy Bomber That Crashed, Killing Two On Board

May 11, 1991 GMT

DAVIS, W.Va. (AP) _ A sheriff in a borrowed helicoptor was the first to find the wreckage of a Navy bomber that crashed in the state’s northeastern mountains, killing the two crew members aboard.

Tucker County Sheriff Hank Thompson on Friday located the A-6E Intruder near the Stony River Reservoir, about 150 miles west of Washington, D.C., said Lt. Col. Dave Caudill of the West Virginia Civil Air Patrol in Charleston.

The bodies of Lt. Robert Louis Zouhar, 27, of Albuquerque, N.M., and Lt. Ricky Alan Serex, 32, of Salem, Ore., were found in the wreckage, said Cmdr. Steve Honda, a Navy spokesman in Norfolk, Va.

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The plane had been on a training mission, the Navy said.

Thompson said he was familiar with the area in which the Navy routinely flies training missions. He called the terrain ″unimaginably rough.″

″We knew basically what area they fly in,″ Thompson said. ″You can come up here any day of the week at Thomas and Davis and see them flying down the canyon.″

The crash area’s elevation is about 2,800 feet. Witnesses said the plane apparently clipped trees along a remote ridge it failed to get over before crashing.

The exact cause of the crash was not immediately known, Honda said.

The jet left Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va., Thursday afternoon and was reported overdue several hours later.

Civil Air Patrol and Navy planes and helicopters searched Thursday and Friday before Thompson found the wreckage, Caudill said.