Missing Marine helicopter located near San Diego; search continues for crew

A Marine Corps helicopter that went missing overnight in Southern California has been located, but the search continues for the military crew who was onboard it.

It was around 2 a.m. Wednesday when the sheriff’s department was notified that the helicopter was overdue for arrival at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. It had last been seen southeast of Pine Valley, a mountainous region about 35 miles east of downtown San Diego.

San Diego County deputies, the Civil Air Patrol, and Cal Fire crews have been searching since then, but snow in the area is slowing the search, FOX 5 San Diego reported.


File: A U.S. Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, flies toward the landing deck of the United States Naval Ship Sacagawea at Kushiro Port, Japan, Oct 13, 202

A crew of five was aboard the Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion, which was headed to Miramar from an Air Force base in Nevada.

"The U.S. Marine Corps is searching for five U.S. Marines assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing," Marine Corps Air Station Miramar confirmed to Fox News. "The Marines were flying a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Creech Air Force Base to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Feb. 6, 2024, when the aircraft was reported overdue."


The CH-53E is a heavy lift helicopter used for transporting troops and equipment in roles such as launching amphibious assaults and supply missions, according to the Naval Air System Command website. It has three engines and is about 99 feet long. The CH-53E is the largest military helicopter and is designed to handle harsh flying conditions. 

Heavy rain and snow have been soaking California for days as back-to-back "atmospheric river" storms have moved through. The National Weather Service in San Diego called for 6 to 10 inches of snow in the mountains above 5,000 feet and gusty winds late Wednesday. On Tuesday afternoon, a tornado warning was issued but quickly canceled with the weather service saying the storm was not capable of forming a twister.

Stay with FOX for any updates.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.