Remains of missing Navy pilot found off Virginia coast

LT Sean Christopher Snyder

LT Sean Christopher Snyder

Navy divers have recovered the remains of a pilot whose helicopter crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Virginia last week. 

The Navy confirmed late Tuesday that the remains of 39-year-old Lt. Sean Christopher Snyder, of Santee, Calif.,  had been positively identified earlier in the day. The statement said that Snyder's body was found in the cockpit of the MH-53E "Sea Dragon" helicopter that crashed January 8. The helicopter's cockpit had been located Monday late Monday, but deteriorating conditions forced the search to be suspended until Tuesday. 

The Snyder family released a statement through the Navy saying they were "truly thankful to the men and women of the United States Navy. Sean was a man of honor and a true hero, not only to his country, but also to his wife, children, family, and friends. Our strength and trust remain in Christ."

Five crew members were onboard the helicopter when it went approximately 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. Two of the other four crew members died in the crash. They have been identified as Lt. Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, N.C., and Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Collins, 25, of Truckee, Calif. The Navy has said that the men were conducting "routine mine countermeasure training."

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. A memorial service for the crew members who died in the crash is scheduled for Friday at Naval Station Norfolk.