Connecticut Mourns Pilot Killed in Helicopter Crash

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell on Friday ordered state flags flown at half-staff after a former Seymour resident and graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London was killed in a helicopter accident off the coast of Washington.

Lt. Sean Krueger, 33, died with crewmates AMT1 Adam Hoke and AMT2 Brett Banks when CG6017, a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk, crashed Wednesday flying from Oregon to Alaska.

“Connecticut grieves the loss of this brave and dedicated Coast Guard officer, whose career exemplifies the service motto, Semper Paratus — Always Prepared,” Rell said in a statement. “After graduating from the service academy in New London in 2000 he served our nation with honor, including participating in a daring rescue in extremely heavy seas while on a pilot exchange with the British Royal Navy.”

“… I ask that each Connecticut resident pause and remember not only the loss of Lt. Krueger, but the continuing service and sacrifice of every member of our nation’s armed services …,” Rell said.

Krueger leaves behind a wife and three young children.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp ordered a safety stand-down at all air stations a day after the crash.

“I am deeply concerned with the number of serious aviation mishaps that have occurred in the last 22 months,” Papp said in an e-mail to Coast Guard personnel. The stand-down requires units to cease all non-essential activities and focus on safety practices.

Krueger had posted concerns about Class A mishaps on his Facebook page. A Class A mishap is a serious crash, according to the Coast Guard’s website.

The Coast Guard was not able to immediately provide more information about those incidents Friday.

News reports over the last year show a variety of Coast Guard aircraft encountered trouble, including another Jayhawk, which crashed in Utah in March. There were no fatalities in the Utah crash, which remains under investigation. A Lockheed Martin-built HC-130 Hercules four-engine prop plane crashed off the coast of San Diego in October 2009, also still being investigated. That wreck killed seven.

A spokesman for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford said it is available to help in the investigation into Wednesday’s Jayhawk crash.

“We have offered to provide any assistance that may be requested,” said Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson on Friday. “However, the circumstances of this accident, as reported by media, suggest our assistance may not be necessary.”

The Associated Press reported the Coast Guard was recovering the wreckage of the helicopter Friday. It also said witnesses saw the Jayhawk fly into power lines before crashing off the coast of Washington.

“We extend our prayers and sincere condolences to the families of those involved in this accident. The loss of our brave servicemen and women is always tragic,” Jackson said.

Staff writers Rob Varnon, Brittany Lyte and the Associated Press contributed to this report.