Bad weather persists as rescue and recovery operation resumes

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The GDF helicopter crash survivors Andio Michael Crawford [right] and Dwayne Johnson [left] at the crash site, awaiting extraction

The Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) rescue and recovery operation resumed this morning, to bring home the bodies of five of the country’s fallen heroes and the survivors of Wednesday’s tragic helicopter crash, Corporal Dwayne Jackson and Lieutenant Andio Michael Crawford.

“Today we venture out again on this rescue and recovery mission. We are focused and we are determined. Our brave and highly trained special forces officers are on the mountain side at the site, taking care of both survivors and preparing the extraction area,” National Security Advisor Captain Gerry Gouveia related.

However, bad weather persists. At the time of publication of this article, the survivors were still at the crash site.

On Thursday, three attempts were made at extraction but the inclement weather thwarted those efforts.

Nevertheless, the rescue team including medical personnel was inserted at the location to care for the survivors.

Those who perished are Brigadier (ret’d) Gary Beaton, Colonel Michael Shahoud, Lieutenant Colonel Sean Welcome, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Charles, and Staff Sergeant Jason Khan.

Brigadier Beaton was the project engineer; Colonel Shahoud, an attorney-at-law, was Commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion; Lt Col Charles was the pilot; Lieutenant Colonel Welcome was Commanding Officer of the Reserve Battalion; and Staff Sergeant Khan was from the 31 Special Forces Squadron.

The servicemen were on Wednesday heading to visit troops near the Venezuelan border when contact was lost with the aircraft in which they were travelling, the GDF Bell 412 helicopter.

At about 11:20h on Wednesday, an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal was sent, but because of rough terrain and adverse weather, the search-and-rescue team was able to reach the site only on Thursday at about 14:30h.

According to the GDF, the team’s mission was to extract the servicemen, but at about 14:47h, the team reported that there were only two survivors.

Once the extraction is completed, the GDF said a full investigation will be launched into the incident.