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Truckee sailor dies in Navy helicopter crash

11:13 PM, Jan 9, 2014   |    comments
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TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) - A 29-year-old Truckee man has been identified as one of the two sailors killed in a Navy helicopter crash off the southern coast of Virginia.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement Thursday that Brian Collins died in Wednesday's crash. The petty officer 3rd class was a crewman on the minesweeper-helicopter. He had served in the Navy for two years and two months.

In Truckee, friends said word of his death spread quickly.

"This whole town of Truckee is just grieving. We all knew Brian," said Jim Sturtevant, who said Collins lived with their family while he was finishing high school.

Sturtevant's wife Jan Sturtevant said Collins was a wonderful presence in their home.

"He had his share of hard knocks, but he was still always up and I loved having him around," Jan Sturtevant said.

Collins' counselor at Truckee High School Nancy Evans said he loved skiing and the outdoors.

"He was a typical Truckee kid and I think I can speak for everyone that he was well-loved by Truckee," Evans said.

The other victim was a pilot, 29-year-old Lt. Wesley Van Dorn of Greensboro, N.C.

Two other crew members were hospitalized after rescue teams hoisted them from the 42-degree waters on Wednesday. The Navy said in a statement that the search for the pilot, the only person missing among the five crew members, was called off Thursday after the Coast Guard searched a 500-square-mile area by air and sea for 30 hours after the Wednesday crash.

Naval officials say the pilot, Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, is a 39-year-old from Santee northeast of San Diego.

The Navy identified the aircraft as an MH-53E Sea Dragon assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen based at Naval Station Norfolk.

Jim Sturtevant said Collins had found a home in the Navy and was building a new life.

"About this time last year, he got married to a beautiful girl, Cheyenne, and they were just celebrating their first year anniversary and they had just bought their first house," Jim Sturtevant said.

He said that after his Navy service, Collins was considering opening an auto painting shop, possibly back in Truckee.

"We were blessed to know Brian," Sturtevant said. "He was a blessing to all and I am going to miss him every day of my life."

The Associated Press and News10/KXTV

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