Brian Collins, Truckee Sailor, Among Dead in Virginia Navy Helicopter Crash

The death toll in the Navy helicopter crash off the coast of Virginia included a sailor from Northern California, while a pilot from Southern California was left missing, Naval officials said.

The search was called off Thursday afternoon for the pilot, the only person missing among the five crew members, after the Coast Guard and Navy searched a 500-square mile area by air and sea for 30 hours after Wednesday's crash, said Capt. John Little, Coast Guard section commander.

The pilot of the MH-53E Sea Dragon, Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, is a 39-year-old from Santee northeast of San Diego, the Navy said Thursday night.

Two crew members, one of them from Northern California, were killed and two others were hospitalized after being hoisted from the cold Atlantic waters.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, was from Truckee near Lake Tahoe and was serving as a crewman on the flight, the Navy said.

Jim Sturtevant was more than just a family friend of Brian Collins. Collins lived with the Sturtevants off and on for two years while attending high school.

“What a sweet, optimistic young man with the rest of his life ahead of him,” Sturtevant said. “And it breaks my heart to lose him at such an early age… I know he went with honor.”

Collins grew up in Truckee and went to Truckee High School.

The Navy had been withholding the missing Snyder's name, but released it sooner than planned at his wife's request because it was already appearing in media reports.

``Lt. Sean Snyder is a decorated pilot, a man of honor, dedicated husband and father, who is proud and grateful for his privilege to serve his country,'' Snyder's family said in a statement released through the Navy, ``at this time, our hearts and prayers are for Sean's recovery, the other families who have suffered loss, and for the health of the hospitalized sailors.''

The other person killed was Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, N.C.

The Navy has not released the name of the two injured crew members.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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