Crew chief in Taiwan Navy's S-70C helicopter crash dies

06/24/2022 12:44 PM
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The Navy S-70C anti-submarine helicopter that made a hard landing at the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base on Wednesday. CNA photo June 23, 2022
The Navy S-70C anti-submarine helicopter that made a hard landing at the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base on Wednesday. CNA photo June 23, 2022

Taipei, June 24 (CNA) The crew chief of a Taiwan Navy S-70C anti-submarine helicopter that crashed in Kaohsiung two days ago died late Thursday night, hours after his family agreed to a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, according to the military.

The 37-year-old crew chief, Master Sergeant Liu Shang-chun (劉尚鈞), was declared dead at his home in Taoyuan at 11:01 p.m., hours after his family agreed to the DNR and brought Liu home from the Zuoying Branch of Kaohsiung Armed Forces General Hospital, where he had been treated, the Navy said on Thursday.

The S-70C helicopter made a hard landing on the tarmac of the Kaohsiung Zuoying naval base on Wednesday at around 4 p.m., causing all four crew members to be injured, the Navy said.

According to the military, Liu had been in critical condition after the crash, sustaining second to third degree burns on 95 percent of his body and suffering subarachnoid hemorrhage -- a condition in which there is bleeding in the space between the brain and its surrounding membrane.

Meanwhile, the other three crew members are in stable condition after being treated at the military hospital, including the chief inspector officer surnamed Kuo (郭), who suffered second to third degree burns, on 20 percent of his body, the military said.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Chiang Cheng-kuo (蔣正國) said the crash was suspected to have been caused by mechanical failure of the tail rotor, citing the accounts of air traffic controllers and the helicopter's pilots.

However, Chiang underlined that the cause of the incident has not been determined and is pending further investigation.

In the meantime, all the Naval Antisubmarine Aviation Group's 18 S-70Cs, including the one that crashed on Wednesday, have been grounded, pending safety checks.

In a press statement issued Friday, the Presidential Office said President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) was deeply saddened by the news of Liu's death.

The president has instructed the Ministry of National Defense to thoroughly probe the incident and help Liu's family deal with the aftermath of his passing, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said in the statement.

Wednesday's crash was the fourth military aircraft accident so far this year, following the crashes of an F-16 jet fighter, a Mirage 2000 jet fighter, and an AT-3 trainer. The accidents have resulted in the total deaths of two pilots and one crew chief.

(By Matt Yu, Tsai Meng-yu, Hung Hsueh-kuang and Teng Pei-ju)

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