The US Coast Guard suspended its search for four passengers who were on board a helicopter that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday morning, December 29.

The Bell 407 helicopter departed from an oil platform and the agency received a call about its crash about 10 miles away from the coast of Southwest Pass, Louisiana, at around 8:40 am. 

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Crews from Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and Venice 45-foot Response Boat-Medium coordinated the search for the missing passengers. The search covered around 180 square miles for eight hours before its suspension at 6:15 on Thursday. The debris of the helicopter was located but no survivors were traced until Friday, reported Fox News. 

“It is always a difficult decision to suspend a search. Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends during this difficult time,” said Lieutenant commander Kevin Keefe, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator. 

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The Bell 407 had four people onboard – a pilot and three oil workers. The aircraft hit the helicopter pad and then crashed into the water. It is not unlikely that  anyone got out of the helicopter, according to WLOX. 

The helicopter was owned by Rotorcraft Leasing which alerted the Coast Guard to the downed company asset. Louisiana-based RLC described itself as the largest privately held helicopter services firm in the Gulf of Mexico. It operates a fleet of Sikorsky 76, Bell 407 and Bell 206 L4 aircraft.

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The platform belonged to Walter Oil and Gas company. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has said it is investigating the accident.

In another incident earlier this month, the Coast Guard rescued three people who were onboard a helicopter that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico when it was to land on an oil rig about 30 miles south of the Louisiana coast. In that crash, the same operator lost a Bell 206L-4 helicopter. Consequently, this is the second crash for Rotorcraft Leasing in two weeks.