Search suspended for missing coast guardsman

Coast Guard District Commander Manson Brown
Coast Guard District Commander Manson Brown

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Coast Guard plans to suspend its search for the fourth missing air crew member at sunset on Sunday.

After no sign of the missing man for three days, they've released his name.

Commander Thomas Nelson of Staten Island, New York was the pilot when that Coast Guard helicopter crashed.

Coast Guard officials say search conditions were excellent on Sunday. But there are still no strong leads. Security guards at Iroquois Point found remains at the beach there. Police can't confirm what it is or where it's from just yet.

At around 8:30, Sunday morning, police crews were called out to the scene at Iroquois Point Beach.

Police say security guards there found remains on the shore once again.

"We felt that the best course of action was to ask our police helicopter to make further checks of the area, we really want to leave no stone unturned in this search for the missing Coast Guard member," Honolulu Police Department Sergeant Kyle Yonemura said.

But Coast Guard officials say there are still no strong leads in the pursuit of one of their own.

"As I interacted with the families and crews, they were heartened by the call of concern and condolences that I have received from Governor Lingle," Coast Guard District Commander Manson Brown said. "Please keep these families in your thoughts and prayers."

Lieutenant Commander Andrew Wischmeier, Rescue Swimmer David Skimin and Flight Mechanic Joshua Nichols all died during the training exercise on Thursday night.

The Coast Guard says the fourth man in that flight was the pilot, Commander Thomas Nelson. He began his duties at Air Station Barbers Point in July, 2007 as the Executive Officer. He joined the Coast Guard in 1988. Nelson is the second in charge of the Coast Guard Air Station.

"This is the third full day of this difficult ordeal and our search efforts have been marvelously supported by our partners , the Honolulu Fire Department," Brown said.

The debris recovered from the search areas will be gathered at Hickam Air Force Base. A Coast Guard investigative team from Washington, D.C. will try to determine the cause of the crash.

Coast Guard crews continue to recover debris from the downed helicopter. They're taking it to the Coast Guard's Sand Island Base. Investigative teams are in place to determine the cause of the accident.