UK & World News
Norfolk Helicopter Crash Victims Identified
Work is getting underway to recover the bodies of four crew killed in a US military helicopter crash, police have said.
Norfolk Police Chief Superintendent Bob Scully said the coroner had given clearance for the bodies to be removed after carrying out a daylight assessment of the area.
He said the operation could last until Thursday as investigators would have to take care not to disturb evidence that may form part of their probe.
The four US servicemen were identified by the US Airforce's 48th Fighter Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath.
A statement named those killed as Captain Christopher Stover, Captain Sean Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton Ponce.
It said that on this particular training mission Captain Stover and Captain Ruane were piloting the helicopter, while the other two crew members were special mission aviators qualified as both gunners and flight engineers.
Colonel Kyle Robinson, commander of the fighter wing, said: "We continue to think of the loved ones who are experiencing such a tragic, sudden loss.
"The Liberty Wing feels as though it has lost members of its family, and we stand by to support one another and these airmen's families during this difficult time."
Aerial images of Norfolk's Cley Marshes Nature Reserve show a scene of utter devastation, with debris from the crash spread across scarred marshland where the Pave Hawk helicopter came down.
Mr Scully said some roads around Cley next the Sea would remain closed until Monday while police work alongside British and American military specialists to establish what happened.
He said: "I'm asking the public to have sympathy with the families of the victims and understand the need for a thorough investigation."
Tributes to one of the servicemen have been paid online.
Captain Ruane is said to have been an experienced pilot. He is survived by his wife Rachel and their young son Liam.
His cousin Brian Meyer tweeted: "My cousin died in a helicopter crash tonight. Pretty tore up about this.
"Everyone: thanks for all the kindness. I'll pass it along to his wife and child when we see each other soon."
Mateo Spencer wrote: "Rest in Peace to my friend Sean Ruane, aircraft pilot downed in a crash in England today."
Earlier, Mr Scully warned that the crash site poses a risk to the public because of ammunition scattered across a wide area "the size of a football pitch".
He said: "The crashed aircraft did contain ammunition. This is not of any great significance - it is bullets, if you will - but it is scattered across the area.
"The site is a hazard to members of the public and people who would normally visit for birdwatching and other nature activities."
The Pave Hawk - based at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk - was taking part in a low-flying exercise when it came down at around 7pm on Tuesday.
The investigation will soon be passed over to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch and its counterparts in the US, Mr Scully said.
Emergency services worked at the scene throughout the night with the help of military personnel and volunteers.
A second helicopter from RAF Lakenheath was also in the area at the time of the crash and set down on the marshes to try to assist.
Mr Scully refused to speculate on whether the second helicopter had any involvement in the incident but said that, as it was nearby at the time, it made sense that it went to help.
Residents told of hearing a "heavy and very unusual" sound overhead as the helicopter - which specialises in recovering troops from war zones - plummeted into marshland at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust Cley Marshes Nature Reserve.
The Pave Hawk - a derivative of the more famous Black Hawk - gets its name from the PAVE acronym standing for Precision Avionics Vectoring Equipment.
The helicopter is used for combat search and rescue, mainly to recover downed aircrew or other isolated personnel.
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