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Coast Guard stops search for 4 people missing after helicopter crash in Gulf of Mexico

 (The Coast Guard)
(The Coast Guard)

The US Coast Guard has suspended its search for four people who were on board a helicopter that crashed near New Orleans into the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday.

The group, which included a pilot and three oil workers, had been departing a Houston-based oil platform when it crashed around 8:40 am CST. The plane was owned by Rotorcraft Leasing Company personnel.

Petty Officer Jose Hernandez, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard’s 8th District told NBC News on Friday: “Once a case is suspended it basically means that we will stop searching until we find any new information that would actually help us with the search. Let’s say somebody actually spots a body or lets us know something (new) that will help one of our assets.”

Weather was reportedly not a factor in the crash and, per the Associated Press, crews conducted an eight hour search in the wake of the crash. They covered roughly 180 square miles and found debris, which appeared to include yellow objects in photos released by the Coast Guard.

Included in the missing workers is 36-year-old David Scarborough of Lizana, Mississippi. His wife Lacy told WDSU-TV that her husband had just finished a two-week shift and was returning home to celebrate Christmas with his family when the crash happened. She also shared that the couple, who lost their 2-year-old son Sawyer in an accidental drowning, is expecting a child.

No bodies have been found thus far and the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that it’s currently investigating the crash.

Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Keefe, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator, said in a statement that “it is always a difficult decision to suspend a search,” but “our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends during this difficult time.”

Mr Hernandez told NBC News that Walter Oil and Gas, which owns the oil platform, is likely to resume a search for the aircraft. A spokesperson for the company did not return a request for comment by the network.