Howard Co. sailor safe in Sumatra copter crash

A 21-year-old Navy photographer from Ellicott City survived the crash of a helicopter ferrying help for tsunami victims from the USS Abraham Lincoln to the Banda Aceh airport in Indonesia yesterday without serious injury.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob J. Kirk, whose photography and compassion for tsunami victims were featured in an article in The Sun yesterday, called his father early yesterday after the accident on Sumatra that injured two servicemen.


"He just feels really banged up," John Kirk said.

The U.S. military said 10 people were aboard the Navy Seahawk helicopter when it crashed in a rice paddy near the airport. A military official blamed the crash on a "possible mechanical failure," the Associated Press reported.


John Kirk said his son told him that the helicopter was "about 200 feet up when it started to do 360s."

Jacob Kirk called his Turf Valley home about 6:30 a.m. yesterday and said he was "banged up quite a bit" but OK, John Kirk said. Later, aboard his ship, the sailor called to tell his family more of what had happened.

He said that the helicopter landed on its side and that "his face was half in water," his father said. "He said he thought, 'Hey, I've got to get out of this thing.' "

One serviceman fractured an ankle in the crash and another dislocated a hip, according to news reports. The other eight suffered "no significant injuries," a military official said.

"It makes your heart go out to those families who lose service men and women," said John Kirk, a Micros executive. "My son walked away from that. Not every parent has that benefit. This is a close call."