Service set for Carson Navy pilot

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RIDGECREST -- A memorial service will be held noon Wednesday for a Navy jet pilot and former Carson City man who died in a helicopter accident last week.

Lt. Cmdr. A. Jason Bayer, the 36-year-old son of prominent Carson City attorney Arthur Bayer, will have a combined service with Petty Officer Charles Chaco, who was also killed in Thursday's crash.

The service will be in the Naval Air Weapons Station All Faith Chapel in Ridgecrest, Calif.

Both men were aboard a Navy HH-1 Huey helicopter carrying six crew members, which crashed on a rugged Sierra Nevada ridge approximately three miles west of Kernville on a mountain ridge known as Split Mountain.

The survivors included Lt. Cmdr. Ric McCarthy, 49, of Ridgecrest; Lt. Sean O'Brien, 31, of Punxsutawney, Pa.; Petty Officer Damien Ramey, 19, of Pine Hill, N.J.; and Petty Officer Megan McKee, 20, of Moore, Okla.

Three of the survivors received minor injuries and the fourth complained of severe back pain.

Capt. Alex Hnarakis, commanding officer of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake,

"The mission -- this particular mission -- was a search and rescue training mission," Hnarakis said. "They were practicing in mountainous terrain, practicing approaches and victim extractions from confined areas on top of or close to ridge lines.

All six of the crew members were assigned to the Weapons Test Squadron.

Bayer -- who had initially been reported as stationed at Lemoore -- was a last minute ride along when another crew member fell ill prior to the exercise.

"That kind of thing does happen periodically, where a crew member from another outfit comes along to play the victim, and also gets some good training out of it. Because someday, if they ever get into a situation where they need a rescue, they will know what is going to happen.

"That was not the case here. There was one of the crew members (Bayer) who was stationed at WTS, and had been here for years, and was getting ready to transfer to Lemoore. In fact, he had initiated the move of his family, but he had not actually checked out of the command ultimately and finally. He was on the flight and is one of the deceased members."

"The four survivors are all in good condition and are getting good medical care. Two of them have already been released from the hospital, Lt. O'Brien and Petty Officer Ramey. In fact, I understand that Petty Officer Ramey has been walking around the squadron spaces providing support and doing his job. So obviously he is in real good shape.

"The two survivors who remain in the hospital, Lt Cmdr. Ric McCarthy and Petty Officer Megan McKee are in good condition and getting good medical care. Our thanks go out to the medical team at Ridgecrest Regional Hospital."

The helicopter will be removed from the crash site, according to Hnarakis.


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