World

Marines confirm Wichita pilot among dead in helicopter crash, school president says

Marine Capt. Chris Norgren is seen in this undated photo when was in Navy flight school. Norgren, a Wichita native, was the pilot of a helicpoter that crashed in Nepal.
Marine Capt. Chris Norgren is seen in this undated photo when was in Navy flight school. Norgren, a Wichita native, was the pilot of a helicpoter that crashed in Nepal.

The bodies of all eight people on board the U.S. Marine helicopter that crashed this week during a relief mission in earthquake-hit Nepal have been recovered, Nepal's army said Saturday.

Leticia Nielsen, president of Bishop Carroll High School, said Marine officials visited Ron and Terri Norgren on Saturday morning and confirmed their son, Capt. Chris Norgren, the helicopter’s pilot, was one of the bodies found. Norgren graduated from Bishop Carroll and Nielsen has worked closely with the family the past week.

The wreckage of the UH-1 "Huey" was found on Friday following days of intense search in the mountains northeast of capital Kathmandu. The first three charred bodies were retrieved the same day by Nepalese and U.S. military teams. The Nepalese army said in a statement Saturday that the remaining five were also recovered.

The aircraft, with six Marines, including Wichita native Norgren, and two Nepali soldiers on board, went missing while delivering aid on Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the Marine-led joint task force, told reporters in Kathmandu on Friday that his team could not immediately identify the cause of the crash or the bodies found.

He described the crash as "severe," and said the recovery team at the site encountered extreme weather and difficult terrain.

Ron and Terri Norgren spoke publicly about their son, Marine pilot Chris Norgren, who was piloting a helicopter that went missing in Nepal earlier this week. The wreckage of the helicopter was found yesterday.

The wreckage was located about 24 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Charikot, near where the aircraft went missing while delivering humanitarian aid to villages hit by two deadly earthquakes.

The area is near Gothali village in the district of Dolakha, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Kathmandu.

The U.S. relief mission was deployed soon after a magnitude-7.8 quake hit April 25, killing more than 8,200 people. It was followed by another magnitude-7.3 quake on Tuesday that killed 117 people and injured 2,800.

The helicopter had been delivering rice and tarps in Charikot, the area worst hit by Tuesday's quake. It had dropped off supplies in one location and was en route to a second site when contact was lost.

U.S. military officials said earlier this week that an Indian helicopter in the air nearby had heard radio chatter from the Huey aircraft about a possible fuel problem.

A total of 300 U.S. military personnel have been supporting the aid mission in Nepal, which includes three Hueys, four Marine MV-22B Ospreys, two KC-130 Hercules and four Air Force C-17 Globemaster heavy-lift aircraft.

Contributing: The Eagle’s Gabriella Dunn

Related stories from Wichita Eagle

  Comments