(KMSP) - A Minnesota native is one of the 12 Marines missing after two United States Marine Corps helicopters collided with each other and went down off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, the Marine’s family confirmed to Fox 9.
The two CH-53E helicopters were involved in a collision shortly before midnight on Thursday. A search and rescue operation is underway for the crew members on the choppers at the time of the incident.
Sergeant Dillon Semolina, 24, was third in command on one of the helicopters that crashed, according to Semolina’s father and retired Marine, Mike De la Cruz. Semolina was a graduate of Delano High School.
The helicopters were reportedly conducting a nighttime training mission when the collision occurred. Semolina’s crew went up at 10:40 p.m. and was expected back on base at 11:45 p.m., according to De la Cruz.
Coast Guard rescuers spotted a debris field covering an area of two miles approximately 2 ½ miles offshore, the Associated Press reported. The Marine Corps does not yet know what caused the collision or the status of the Marines on board.
The choppers were part of the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Hawaii.
Semolina's family is hoping to go to Hawaii as soon as possible during the search for their son. Friends of the family have set up a GoFundMe page to help his parents cover the cost of airfare.