(Ynetnews) Lt. Col. Erez Sachyani and Major Chen Fogel were identified on Tuesday, January 4 as the pilots killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of Haifa late Monday.
Sachyan, 38, served as deputy commander of the Ramat David airbase in northern Israel. He was married and a father of three.
Fogel, 27, was a helicopter pilot and deputy commander of the 193 Squadron at Ramat David. He was posthumously promoted from captain to major.
“The aircrew were rescued by Yaltam, Unit 669, Marine Police and Shayetet 13 troops, who administered first aid at the scene. After extensive resuscitation efforts, the two pilots were declared dead,” the military said in a statement.
A third officer, Captain Ron Berman, a member of the navy, was wounded in the crash and was recovering in stable condition at the Rambam Health Care Campus. On January 6, Captain Ron Birman was released from Rambam hospital.
Trauma doctor Hany Bahouth said Berman was conscious, suffering from a fractured spine. “His neurological condition was satisfactory, and we expect to release him from the intensive care unit later in the day to complete his treatment in a regular ward,” he said.
Searches continued for wreckage from the crash along the coast, in order to understand the cause of the crash. An IDF spokesperson said all avenues were being considered but there was no indication that the crash was caused by foul play.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the dead pilots were the best of Israel’s sons.
“This is a very sad time. In the name of all citizens I would like to extend heartfelt condolences to the families of the crash victims and a speedy recovery to the wounded officer,” Bennett said. “The people of Israel will not forget the sacrifice they made, day and night, to the security of the country,” he said.
The helicopter — a Eurocopter AS565 Panther, or “Atalef” (Hebrew for bat) as it is known by the Israeli Air Force — was taking part in a training exercise when it went down, according to the military.
Air Force chief Amiram Sorkin, ordered the immediate suspension of all training flights and the use of helicopters from the same array of the doomed aircraft.
“The IDF expresses its heartfelt condolences to the families and will continue to support them,” the statement said.
Berman told the story of how he tried to save his two crew members after they crashed into the ocean from his hospital bed. “I was able to pull myself out of the helicopter, and only after many attempts to rescue my friends, Erez Sachyani and Chen Fogel, was I rescued by a Coast Guard boat,” he shared.