(Adds search suspended, dead identified)
WASHINGTON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The U.S. military on Thursday suspended its search for a missing crew member from a Navy helicopter that crashed off the Virginia coast a day earlier, killing two sailors, officials said.
The MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter was on a training flight with a five-member crew when it went into the Atlantic Ocean near Fort Story, about 150 miles (240 km) south of Washington, on Wednesday.
Captain John Little, the Coast Guard section commander, told a news conference monitored over the internet that the search for the missing crew member had been suspended after more than 500 square miles of water had been checked.
Captain Todd Flannery, commander of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic, called the crash “absolutely heart-wrenching.”
He identified the two sailors who died as crewman Petty Officer Brian Collins, 25, of Truckee, California, and pilot Lieutenant Wesley Van Dorn, 29, of Greensboro, North Carolina.
One survivor was released from a Norfolk, Virginia, hospital on Thursday and the second may be released on Friday, Flannery said.
Searchers have found the helicopter’s fuselage and tail section using radar.
The cause of the crash of the helicopter made by the Sikorsky unit of United Technologies Corp is under investigation.
The crew was part of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Fourteen, based at Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia. (Reporting by Lacey Johnson; Editing by Ian Simpson and Sophie Hares)