U.S. Navy Aircrewman Killed After Fuel Tank Falls off Helicopter at NAS North Island

One U.S. Navy aircrewman was killed and another injured last week when a fuel tank detached from an HH-60H Seahawk helicopter and fell over them during training at the Naval Air Station North Island located in San Diego County, California.

The accident occurred at around 6:30 p.m. local time on July 30 during hot pit, hot seat training which involved refueling the helicopter without shutting down the engine.

The Navy identified the victim as Naval Helicopter Aircrewman 1st Class Jonathan Richard Clement who was declared dead at the UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest a day after the incident after his family chose to remove life support.

Clement and another unidentified helicopter crew member were conducting a post-flight inspection when an auxiliary fuel tank came off the helicopter, striking and injuring the two. The unidentified crew member only suffered minor injuries, and was treated and released from the hospital the same day. The fuel tank contained fuel and potentially weighed some 1,500 pounds.

Both sailors involved in the incident were assigned to the Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85 (HSC-85) “Firehawks” based at NAS North Island.

The accident was not initially disclosed by the Navy and was not reported until the Navy Safety Center released information on Monday without identifying the victim.

“During hotseat, HH-60H auxiliary fuel tank detached from aircraft and landed on two service members. E-6 died in the hospital, E-5 was treated and released”, said the report.

“After consulting with the family, the Navy decided not to issue public notification”, said Naval Air Forces spokesman Cmdr. Ron Flanders. The incident is under investigation, he added.

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