Rescuers pull 2 bodies from lagoon in Nigeria chopper crash

AP News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2015 2:58 PM

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Rescuers pulled bodies of two crew members from the water Thursday, with an Oklahoma man among six killed when a helicopter flying from an offshore oil rig plunged into a lagoon in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.

Marine police and fishermen calling for body bags raced to a dock Thursday and delivered the bodies of Capt. Joseph "Jay" Wyatt of Oklahoma and First Officer Peter Bellow of Nigeria, according to the helicopter's owner, Bristow Group of Houston, Texas. A statement from the company did not give Wyatt's home town.

They were found in the submerged aircraft, said Onimode Bandela, coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency.

Four bodies were recovered Wednesday, officials said. The helicopter crashed Wednesday afternoon on approach to Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport, according to Bristow.

Six people are hospitalized with injuries, said emergency agency spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye. All but Wyatt appear to be Nigerian.

"I saw smoke and then it fell down into the water. We were rushing and it was sinking. People were shouting for help," said Adedayo Hassan, a speedboat driver. "They were wearing life jackets but they were trapped in the chopper ... which was broken in pieces."

He and his friends dove in, broke the lever to open a door, cut survivors out of seat belts and pulled them out feet first.

Hassan said they motored back to shore, flagged down a taxi and delivered the men to a nearby hospital.

It is the first time a Bristow chopper has crashed in 50 years of operations in Nigeria, pilot Abioye Babatunde of the National Association of Pilots and Engineers told the AP.