The pilot of a military helicopter crashed into the sea, killing all five people on board

The pilot of a military helicopter crashed into the sea, killing all five people on board

Mexican state security chief is among the five dead in helicopter crash on Yucatan Peninsula

Rescue workers and police search for survivors after a helicopter took off from the San Miguel de Xalitzatlán air base and crashed into the sea, killing all five people on board.

Reuters file

By Michael V. Corazzo

Feb. 10, 2016

YUCATECAN, Mexico — In one of the most dramatic and at times terrifying episodes in the nearly 50 years since the Mexican government and the military launched military exercises in the region, a military helicopter plummeted into the sea west of the Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday night after takeoff from a military base in a small town of about 3,000 people in the jungle.

The helicopter, which was carrying members of the Grupo de Coordinados de Inteligencia Nacional (Gran Colombia), a small but highly trained police unit that’s based in Mexico City, crash-landed on the beach near San Miguel de Xalitzatlán, or Saint Michael’s Beach, and burst into flames, sending plumes of white smoke into the air, according to news reports. The plane reportedly exploded after hitting the water, with no fatalities reported, although the pilot was killed.

Officials identified the pilot as Army Capt. Carlos Enrique “Tio” Mendoza, who was flying the L-159 military helicopter on a training mission with soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces Group of the Mexican Army from the Uruapan air base about 150 miles south of Mexico City, according to reports. Another soldier on board was wounded in the shoulder, and three were rescued from the ocean, according to the news reports.

The president of the Mexican Defense Ministry — a military leader — was on the scene, along with local police, military, and local government officials, the news reports said. Government officials also took away two helicopters belonging to the military, the news reports said, adding that the two pilots aboard the downed plane were also killed in the crash.

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