ST. JOHN'S, Newfoundland – Rescuers have ended a search for 16 people missing in an Atlantic helicopter crash, saying there was no likelihood of finding survivors.
Rescue official Maj. Paul Doucette said crews quit an active search Friday evening, nearly 34 hours after the helicopter went down about 30 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.
On Thursday, one survivor and the body of another person were found after the Sikorsky S-92 issued a distress call and ditched 30 miles out to sea. The helicopter had been en route to offshore oil facilities.
Crews worked overnight with the help of night-vision goggles, but there were no signs of more survivors 24 hours after the Thursday morning accident, Canadian authorities said.
Rescuers were holding out hope earlier in the day since those aboard were believed to be wearing survival suits, which serve as life preservers and retain body warmth in frigid waters.
The survival window is about 24 hours with the suits and water-activated locator beacons, but Maj. Denis McGuire of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre during a news conference Friday morning said there had been no signals from the beacons. He also acknowledged that rescuers were less likely to find anyone now that 24 hours have passed.
Winds are gusting to about 37 miles an hour and sea swells are choppy in the search area on Friday.
"Unfortunately, there hasn't been any sightings," Jeri Grychowski of the rescue center said after the 24-hour mark had passed.
The sister-in-law of one of the missing, Derrick Mullowney, a steward on the Sea Rose, was in tears as she spoke about the accident.
"We only buried his father about a month ago. His father died on January 30th and now this," said Sharon Mullowney.
She said Derrick Mullowney, who lives near St. John's, is 52 and has been working in the offshore for nearly 30 years.
Two life rafts were spotted in the water early Thursday amid debris from the helicopter that was spread over a six-mile area, but rescuers later confirmed they were empty.
Survivor Robert Decker is at St. John's hospital where he's reportedly being treated for a broken bone and hypothermia. He was listed in critical but stable condition in the hospital's intensive care unit.
"He's showing signs of recovery," said Trevor Pritchard, general manager of Husky Oil, operator of the Sea Rose floating production vessel in the White Rose oil field.
The pilot of the helicopter had reported mechanical problems, but the cause of the crash was still being investigated. The crew of a Provincial Airlines aircraft flying over the area reported seeing the craft floating upside down a few minutes after the crash.
The helicopter was en route to the Hibernia oil platform, about 200 miles east of St. John's. The helicopter had also planned to visit the nearby SeaRose oil platform.