NORFOLK, Va. — A new documentary looks at the 2014 Navy helicopter crash that killed two lieutenants and a petty officer and questions the Pentagon's priorities.
"Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn" is named for Lieutenant Wes Van Dorn, the 29-year-old pilot and Naval Academy graduate who died along with Lt. Sean Snyer and Petty Officer Brian Collins in the 2014 crash of their Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter during an exercise 18 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, during routine mine counter-measures training.
The original Navy report said there was a fireball, the crew became disoriented and they only had about 20 seconds before their helo hit the ocean.
The problems began with a fuel line.
There was an eruption of some kind, and the fuel came into contact with electrical wires. The arc or surge came into contact with the fuel line that had become chafed.
The mishap prompted the Navy to inspect the service's 28 Sea Dragons and all 149 Sea Stallions.
A Virginian-Pilot investigation found that those inspections were not sufficient. A new round was ordered.
The MH-53 is the Navy's oldest and most maintenance-intensive helicopter.
132 people have been killed in it since 1974.
The specific one in question dates back to the 80's.
And now comes this film. Director Zachary Stauffer says it raises serious questions.
"Ultimately, we came down to the realization, it's just a matter of priorities," he said. "These helicopters are old. Certainly in the Navy side. It's not a particularly glamorous mission, many have told us. And it wasn't a priority for people in Washington and therefore, people had to suffer on account of it."
"Who Killed Lt. Van Dorn" will be shown Monday night, at 7 at the Naro Expanded Cinema in Norfolk.