Coast Guard C-130, Marine Corps Cobra Collide In Midair Off San Diego

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Lt. Josh Nelson spoke Thursday night for the Coast Guard, but would not specifically verify news reports that a Coast Guard C-130 with seven aboard collided with an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter with two aboard, producing a fireball seen off the San Diego coast shortly after 7 p.m., Thursday. Nelson confirmed that the accident took place in clear skies, about 15 miles east of San Clemente Island, but would only identify the accident aircraft as "a Coast Guard fixed-wing" and "a DOD aircraft." Marine spokesman Maj. Jay Delarosa confirmed a Marine Cobra belonging to the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (based at Miramar, MCAS) and operating out of Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego, was the Marine aircraft involved in the incident. Multiple news outlets reported that the FAA identified the second aircraft as a Coast Guard C-130 with seven aboard. At least four Navy helicopters and multiple ships were deployed shortly after the accident and were searching for any survivors.

Nelson reported that searchers using night vision goggles had found debris, but no people. Water temperatures were reported in the low 60's, with calm seas and light winds. The evening fog that sometimes rolls in off the ocean was not present. The search effort was expected to continue through the night.