Gulf Of Mexico off LA, Helicopter Crewship Crashes, Nov 1975


New Orleans (AP) -- A fleet of helicopters was to clatter over the Gulf of Mexico at first light today in search of nine men missing since a helicopter crewship crashed two days ago.
About 15 helicopters and a swarm of boats concentrated on an area 60 miles southwest of Intracoastal City, La., Tuesday after part of the roter and a chunk of fuselage were fished out, the Coast Guard said.
Earlier, a rescue helicopter had spotted an empty life raft and a life jacket. The crashed helicopter reportedly was equipped with two eight-man life rafts with strobe lights.
"There's a chance some may have made it," a Coast Guard spokesman said. "The seas are calm. If they got into a life raft they won't even get seasick."
Two coast guard cutters remained in the area as nightfell and the aerial search was suspended.
Petroleum Helicopter Inc. which operates 223 choppers that service offshore drilling rigs and platforms said the Bell 212 was on a routine flight when it disappeared Monday.
The chopper was ferrying crewmen from the Marlin Drilling Company's Marlin One, a rig 90 miles at sea southwest of Intracoastal City.
They were the final contingent of 29 men on the rig who had finished ther work and were headed for seven days ashore. Most offshore workers operate on a seven on, seven off schedule.
The Bell 212, headed for Intracoastal City, made a radio report that it was deviating from course to avoid a storm. The Coast Guard said a "partial distress signal" came from the chopper at 3:02 p.m., 20 minutes after it left the drilling rig.
A "partial" distress call is one that breaks off in mid transmission.
The men aboard were identified as DONALD D. DESHOTEL of Jennings, La.; FRANCIS RICHARD, Evangeline, La.; JAMES T. BARKER, Tioga, La.; JOSEPH BARNABA, Opelousas, La.; RANDOLPH LaCOSTE, Morgan City, La.; JOSEPH T. CHAMBERS, New Orleans; LARRY LEWIS, Lafayette, La.; HARDY EVANS, Florien, La.; and the pilot, CHAD CLAY, 41, of Lafayette.

The Star Anniston Alabama 1975-11-05