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Military Investigation Of Air Accident Is Underway

A military investigation is underway in San Diego to determine what caused a Coast Guard aircraft and a Marine Corps helicopter to collide 50 miles off the coast last week.

Coast Guard spokesperson Allyson Conroy says civilian agencies like the Federal Aviation Administration or the National Transportation Safety Board will only be involved if asked for help, because the crash occurred between aircraft from two military agencies.

She says investigators will try to piece together answers about radio communications before the crash, and analyze the evidence.

"They’re going through any of the wreckage that has been able to be recovered during the search and rescue phase." she said.

The debris field left in the ocean after the accident was extensive. Conroy says six Coast Guard cutters and three Navy ships in the area helped pick up the evidence. No survivors were found from the nine crew members involved.

The Coast Guard crew out of Sacramento were familiar with the airspace, called Whiskey 291, and the fact that it was frequently used by the Navy for training. It is unclear whether the Coast Guard crew had made contact with Navy air traffic controllers before the accident occurred. The Marine helicopter was one of four copters on their way to a training mission on San Clemente Island. The accident occurred soon after night fall.

Conroy said the results of the investigation will be available to the public when published, but that could be months away.

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