The body of a Navy pilot has been found by divers a week after his helicopter crashed off the coast of Virginia.
Lieutenant Sean Christopher Snyder, from Santee in California, has been missing since the MH-53E Sea Dragon he was flying crashed during a training exercise.
The 39-year-old’s body was finally recovered after rescuers located the cockpit about 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach on Tuesday.
Lieutenant Snyder and a crew of four had been on a mine training exercise when the helicopter went down on January 8.
The other crew members were rescued from the sea about an hour after the helicopter went down, but two – Lieutenant J. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, and Naval Aircrewman Brian Collins, 25, later died.
The pilot’s family released a statement thanking the crew who helped find Lieutenant Snyder, ABC 10 reported.
It read: ‘The family is truly thankful to the men and women of the United States Navy. Sean was a man of honor and a true hero, not only to his country, but also to his wife, children, family, and friends.’
The pilot, who flew in aid supplies and helped with evacuations when Pakistan was hit by devastating floods in 2010, was a decorated serviceman and dedicated husband Pilot Online reported.
A remotely operated vehicle was used in the search for his body, during an operation that covered 500sq miles.
The cockpit was spotted on Monday but rough weather conditions delayed the recovery operation until the following day.
A salvage vessel will now be used to hoist the wreckage out of about 70ft of seawater.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, but the first sign of a problem appears to have come at about 10.45am, when the crew radioed in a distress call.
The Sea Dragon is an unarmed two-pilot helicopter that uses a crew of up to six for operations such as towing heavy pieces of equipment.
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