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Missing crew member's remains found in crashed U.S. Navy helicopter

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[January 15, 2014]  (Reuters)  The U.S. Navy on Tuesday said its divers had found the remains of a missing crew member from its military helicopter that crashed off the Virginia coast last week, killing two sailors.

The MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter was on a training flight with a five-member crew on January 8 when it went into the Atlantic Ocean near Fort Story, about 150 miles south of Washington.

Navy divers searching the wreckage recovered the body of Lieutenant Sean Christopher Snyder on Tuesday, the Navy said in a statement late on Tuesday.

It was a day after locating the aircraft's cockpit and the 39-year-old missing pilot's remains using a "remotely operated vehicle," though the search was halted due to bad weather.

Military officials had identified the two sailors who died as crewman Petty Officer Brian Collins, 25, of Truckee, California, and pilot Lieutenant Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, North Carolina.

The helicopter had been conducting "routine mine countermeasure training," the Navy said.

"Sean was a man of honor and a true hero, not only to his country, but also to his wife, children, family, and friends," his family said in a statement.

Four of the crew members were rescued and taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for treatment, where Collins and Van Dorn died there from unspecified injuries, the Navy said. The two others have since been released from hospital.

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The cause of the crash of the helicopter made by the Sikorsky unit of United Technologies Corp was under investigation.

The search for the missing crew member had been suspended the day after the crash, on January 9, after more than 500 square miles of water had been checked, officials said.

The crew was part of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen, based at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia, where a memorial service is set for Friday.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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