NewsCovering Louisiana


UPDATE: Coast Guard suspends search for overdue helicopter in Gulf

Posted at 2:27 PM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 20:28:18-05


The Coast Guard has suspended its search for the two people aboard an overdue helicopter that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard says their crews searched over 4,117 square-nautical miles for approximately 68 hours but were unable to find the passengers.

“It is never easy to suspend a search,” said Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Ferguson from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “We searched diligently with our pilots, boat crews and cutter crews but were unable to find the two men aboard the helicopter. Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the two men.”

The search continued Monday morning for that helicopter that was reported overdue on Saturday. During that search, debris matching the helicopter's description was found

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said the agency does believe the copter crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, based on the debris found.

On Saturday, officials told KATC that they were contacted about the missing helicopter at around 10:37 am Saturday. Panther Marine, the owner of the helicopter stated that the crew did not reach their destination. The passengers were transiting from one offshore platform to another but Panther Marine lost communications when they were 10 minutes from landing, according to a release.

The crews last known position was 13 nautical miles west of Southwest Pass, Louisiana. The identities of the two crew members were not released.

The tail number of the helicopter is N79LP and the owner is Panther Marine.

Involved in the search are:

  • Coast Guard District Eight watchstanders
  • Coast Guard Sector New Orleans watchstanders
  • Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew
  • Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin aircrew
  • Coast Guard Station Venice Response Boat-Medium boat crew
  • Panther Marine

A map of the location of Southwest Pass is below: