Helicopter crash off Valencia – Two crew escape with minor injuries

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DRAMATIC marine rescue off the coast of Valencia (photo courtesy Salvamento Marítimo)


THE two pilots who survived a dramatic helicopter crash into the sea five miles southeast of Pinedo, Valencia just before 3.30pm on Wednesday May 20, have spoken about their ordeal.
The two men have now been identified as Haritz Galarraga from San Sebastian and Marcel Selma from Catalonia, aged 34 and 42 respectively, both experienced pilots. They are employed by an air transport company, Helitrans Pyrinees, specialising in the transportation of building materials such as towers and antennas.
Haritz and Marcel had spent a normal day in the Andalusian town of Huércal de Almería. Around 12.30pm they took off from Almeria to return to Lleida but ran into a hailstorm near Murcia and were forced to divert. They lost control of the helicopter over the sea due to reasons yet to be determined. However, Helitrans suspects a seagull might have flown into the rotors.
The two pilots were in the sea for around an hour: “We kept moving in the water, swimming, to avoid dying of cold,” said Marcel.
They were spotted by a Sasemar 101 rescue aircraft already on patrol in the area, and promptly rescued by Coast Guard personnel of the marine rescue vessel Salvamar Pollux which was sent to assist. They were transferred to a Valencia hospital where both pilots were found to be suffering with bruising and hypothermia but otherwise uninjured. They were released the following day.

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