Rescue teams are searching for nine people missing in Thursday's Coast Guard crash, in which a search plane collided with a Marine Corps helicopter that was conducting training off the California coast.
Early Thursday evening, the Coast Guard C-130 was on its own search mission for a 12-foot skiff thought to be lost near San Clemente Island. At about 7:15 p.m., the low-flying plane and a Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter that was conducting a nighttime exercise collided. The resulting fireball was witnessed by another pilot nearby, according to reports.
Now, the original search for the skiff has expanded to a 14-mile by 14-mile search area with a flotilla of Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Customs and Border Patrol vessels and a number of aircraft all looking for survivors of the crash, according to Coast Guard officials. The "debris field" is smaller – about 10 miles by four miles, says Petty Officer Matthew Schofield, a spokesman for the Coast Guard.
"Right now we're still searching with the hope that we find survivors," he says.