Mother: Son tried to save Navy shipmates after collision

Published: Sunday, June 18, 2017 @ 8:13 PM
Updated: Sunday, June 18, 2017 @ 8:10 PM


            Damaged part of USS Fitzgerald is seen at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo Sunday, June 18, 2017. Navy divers found a number of sailors' bodies Sunday aboard the stricken USS Fitzgerald that collided with a container ship Saturday in the busy sea off Japan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The mother of a U.S. Navy sailor said her son kept diving to try to save his shipmates after a collision at sea until their flooded sleeping berth began running out of air pockets, while other survivors — believing their ship was under attack — hurried to man the guns.

Mia Sykes of Raleigh, North Carolina, told The Associated Press on Sunday that her 19-year-old son, Brayden Harden, was knocked out of his bunk by the impact, and water immediately began filling the berth, after their destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship four times its size off the Japanese coast.

The ships collided about 2:20 a.m. Saturday, when the Navy said most of the 300 sailors on board would have been sleeping, and authorities have declined to speculate on a cause while the crash remains under investigation.

Sykes says her son told her that four men in his berth, including those sleeping on bunks above and below him died, while three died in the berth above his.

"They did what they were trained to do," said Sykes, who said she hopes her son, from Herrin, Illinois, can come home to be with family as he works through what happened. "You have to realize most of them are 18, 19 and 20-year-olds living with guilt. But I told him, 'There's a reason you're still here and make that count.'"

On Monday morning in Japan, the Navy's 7th Fleet identified the seven sailors who died. Navy divers had recovered the bodies after the severely damaged Fitzgerald returned to the fleet's home in Yokosuka, Japan, on Saturday with assistance from tug boats.

The victims were Gunner's Mate Seaman Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia; Yeoman 3rd Class Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego, California; Sonar Technician 3rd Class Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut; Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas; Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California; Personnel Specialist 1st Class Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland; and Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio.

In a statement, acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley said, "We are all deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow shipmates. ... As details emerge, we can all be proud of the heroic effort by the crew to tend to the needs of those injured and save the ship from further damage while returning safely to port."

He thanked "our Japanese allies" for their swift assistance, and said the Navy will full investigate the cause.

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, the commander of the 7th Fleet, described a harrowing scene as other sailors fought to keep the ship from sinking. Most of the damage is below the waterline, including a large gash near the keel, Aucoin said.

"The water flow was tremendous, and so there wasn't a lot of time in those spaces that were open to the sea. And as you can see now, the ship is still listing, so they had to fight the ship to keep it above the surface. It was traumatic," Aucoin said at a news conference at the Yokosuka base on Sunday.

He said one machinery room and two berthing areas for 116 crew members were severely damaged from the impact to the ship's side. Navy spokesman Lt. Paul Newell said the victims may have been killed by the impact of the collision or drowned in the flooding.

The Fitzgerald's captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, suffered a head injury in the collision and was airlifted to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka. Two other crew members suffered cuts and bruises and were also flown out by helicopter.

Conditions were clear at the time of the collision, though the area is particularly busy with sea traffic.

The damage to the destroyer suggests that the container ship, the ACX Crystal, might have slammed into it at a high speed, raising questions about communication between the two vessels in an area where as many as 400 ships pass through every day, according to Japan's coast guard. Most congestion occurs in the early hours of the day, and fast currents make it a tricky area that requires experience and skill to navigate.

The ACX Crystal weighs 29,060 tons and is 222 meters (730 feet) long, much larger than the 8,315-ton destroyer.

The container ship's left bow was dented and scraped, and accident investigators from the Japanese transport ministry found further damage below its waterline. Footage from Japanese broadcaster NHK showed a sharp horizontal cut across the bow area, which looked like a shark's mouth. Many scratches were also seen in the frontal area.

Some ship trackers showed the container ship making a U-turn before the collision, a move that has raised questions about what happened. Both Aucoin and the Japanese coast guard, however, said it was too early to determine what led to the collision.

The coast guard questioned crew members of the ACX Crystal, and is treating the collision as a case of possible professional negligence, said Masayuki Obara, a regional coast guard official.

All of the ACX Crystal's 20-member Filipino crew were safe, according to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen K.K., which operates the ship.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a sympathy message to President Donald Trump. "We are struck by deep sorrow," Abe said in the message. "I express my heartfelt solidarity to America at this difficult time."

Jennifer Adkison of Granbury, Texas, whose 20-year-old son, Bruce Adkison, a fifth-generation sailor, survived the collision, said in a Facebook message that families are grieving for those who died and trying to get clothing and other items to survivors who lost all their possessions.

"The only other day I have been so overwhelmed with joy to hear my son's voice was the day he was born," Adkison said.

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Webber reported from Chicago.

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This story has been corrected to show that the name of one victim is Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, not Carlosvictor.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

Find her work also on APNews at https://www.apnews.com/search/mari%20yamaguchi

No fish tale: Centerville man catches 50-inch muskie

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2017 @ 9:05 PM

Cole Menker of Centerville caught a 50-inch muskellunge

Wow! That’s a big fish.

Centerville resident Cole Menker caught this 50-inch muskellunge “muskie” Saturday morning at Caesar Creek State Park in Warren County.

“Haven’t caught a lot of musk in my life but he looks like he’s a high 40,” Menker said in a Facebook video on his page before catching the fish on an eight-pound line.

Menker was fishing with his brother, C.J. Menker on their late mother’s birthday.

“She must have thrown one down from heaven,” Cole Menker said on his Facebook page.

The brothers have been fishing and hunting since they were young. On Saturday, they were practicing for an upcoming Mid-Ohio Saugeye Trail fish tournament when the muskie, a type of Pike, caught Menker’s hook.

After posing for pictures, Menker threw the fish back into the water.

Depsite Thunderbirds cancellation, Dayton Air Show thrills crowd

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2017 @ 6:48 PM

Spectators came out for the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show on Sunday, despite a performance schedule cut short after the cancellation of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds act.

While the Thunderbirds did not fly Sunday, the 2017 show featured 10 other performances, air show organizers said — drawing large crowds under cloudless, blue skies on both Saturday and Sunday.

Plans for a jam-packed schedule, highlighted by several military acts, took a turn when a two-seat F-16 Thunderbird jet overturned at the airport after landing Friday. The mishap trapped the pilot and passenger until they were freed by first responders hours later. Both were hospitalized and reported in good condition. One team member has been released.

» RELATED: Thunderbirds will not perform Sunday at Vectren Dayton Air Show

The top attractions instead included a U.S. Air Force F-35 Heritage Flight and U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet demonstration along with Sean Tucker, Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team, GEICO Skytypers, Redline Airshows, Rob Holland Ultimate Air Shows, Suzuki Aerosports and a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the famous Doolittle Raid.

Thunderbirds Capt. Erik Gonsalves remains in Miami Valley Hospital after he was extricated from an F-16 that overturned on the runway Friday at the Dayton International Airport. Gonsalves Tweeted Saturday a picture of himself in the hospital bed stating, “Thanks for all the love and support. I’m doing okay. More to follow, I’m thankful for all our friendships.”

Dayton Aviation Director Terrence Slaybaugh said while he was disappointed by the Thunderbird’s absence, the top priority of the airport was ensuring the safety of the crowds and the performers.

» RELATED: Former F-16 pilot says wind likely factor in flip over

Slaybaugh said the mishap was a “best-case scenario,” with a quick response from emergency teams and no fatalities. The airport will work “arm in arm” with the military during its investigation into the accident. The Thunderbirds remained grounded for the entirety of the air show, aggravating some spectators.

Carol Shaw drove nearly three hours from her home in Coshocton, north of Zanesville, to watch the Vectren Dayton Air Show on Sunday. She said she was shocked to hear about the cancellation of the Thunderbirds performance, but would’ve come to the show regardless.

“I have to say I’m a little disappointed, but we’ve been coming here probably 20 years,” she said. “We like it better than the Cleveland air show.”

» RELATED: In close formation, reporter rides in squadron of vintage war planes

Chris Bruening, a Beavercreek resident, sat in a lawn chair and awaited the start of the performances. He attended the air show throughout childhood, and said he was particularly interested in seeing the pilots of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter take to the sky.

“The crowd does seem smaller this year,” he said.

Tens of thousands typically show up for the air show each year, however attendance records won’t be released until today. In 2016, an estimated 51,000 vistors came to watch aerial performances at the Dayton airport, and officials said attendance was impacted by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels cancellation. The Blue Angels did not perform last year after a fatal crash in Tennessee.

Bill Mangas, medical operations manager for the air show, said his team saw fewer medical emergencies this year compared to 2016. On Saturday, the team treated 17 patients and sent one to a local hospital. On Sunday, the team treated an estimated 36 patients by 3 p.m., and sent three of them to local hospitals. Mangas attributed the decline in medical emergencies to cooler temperatures.

“The breeze was definitely a life-saver,” he said.

» RELATED: What to eat and drink before or after Dayton Air Show

Highlights of the show included daring acts by the F-18 Super Hornet and the Redline aerobatic flight duo. Sean D. Tucker, who thrilled the crowd with his tight maneuvers and excessive speed, pulled G-force after G-force and talked through the speakers to the air show crowd.

This could very well be one of Tucker’s last solo appearances at the Dayton Air Show. Tucker, who flies the single-seat, 400-horsepower Oracle Challenger III biplane, said he will retire from solo flying after the 2018 air show season. He hopes to find a sponsor to launch a formation flying team as his next chapter in aviation takes center stage.

“I love Dayton, and I love sky dancing,” he shouted from the cockpit of his spinning aircraft.

Air Show thrills crowd despite Thunderbirds cancellation

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2017 @ 11:49 AM
Updated: Sunday, June 25, 2017 @ 4:39 PM

Spectators came out in hoards for the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show on Sunday, despite a performance schedule cut short after the cancellation of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds act.

While Thunderbirds did not fly Sunday, the 2017 show featured 10 other performances, air show organizers said — drawing large crowds under cloudless, blue skies on both Saturday and Sunday.

Plans for a jam-packed schedule, highlighted by several military acts, took a turn when a two-seat F-16 Thunderbird jet overturned at the airport after landing Friday. The mishap trapped the pilot and passenger until they were freed by first responders hours later. Both were hospitalized and reported in good condition. One team member has been released.

» RELATED: Thunderbirds will not perform Sunday at Vectren Dayton Air Show

The top attractions instead included a U.S. Air Force F-35 Heritage Flight and U.S. Navy F-18 Super Hornet demonstration along with Sean Tucker, Misty Blues All Woman Skydiving Team, GEICO Skytypers, Redline Airshows, Rob Holland Ultimate Air Shows, Suzuki Aerosports and a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the famous Doolittle Raid.

Thunderbirds Capt. Erik Gonsalves remains a patient at Miami Valley Hospital after he was extricated from an F-16 that overturned on the runway Friday at the Dayton International Airport. Gonsalves Tweeted Saturday a picture of himself in the hospital bed stating, “Thanks for all the love and support. I’m doing okay. More to follow, I’m thankful for all our friendships.”

Aviation Director Terrence Slaybaugh said while he was disappointed by the Thunderbird’s absence, the top priority of the airport was ensuring the safety of the crowds and the performers.

“We’re obviously very disappointed they won’t fly,” he said. “We’ll get through it.”

» RELATED: Former F-16 pilot says wind likely factor in flip over

Slaybaugh said the mishap was a “best-case scenario,” with a quick response from emergency teams and no fatalities. The airport will work “arm in arm” with the military during its investigation into the accident. The Thunderbirds remained grounded for the entirety of the air show, aggravating some spectators.

Carol Shaw drove nearly three hours from her home in Coshocton, Ohio, to watch the Vectren Dayton Air Show on Sunday. She said she was shocked to hear about the cancellation of the Thunderbirds performance, but would’ve come to the show regardless.

“I have to say I’m a little disappointed, but we’ve been coming here probably 20 years,” she said. “We like it better than the Cleveland air show.”

» RELATED: In close formation, reporter rides in squadron of vintage war planes

Chris Bruening, a Beavercreek resident, sat in a lawn chair and awaited the start of the performances. He attended the air show throughout childhood, and said he was particularly interested in seeing the pilots of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter take to the sky.

“The crowd does seem smaller this year,” he said.

Tens of thousands typically show up for the air show each year, however attendance records won’t be released until Monday. In 2016, an estimated 51,000 vistors came to watch aerial performances at the Dayton airport, and officials said attendance was impacted by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels cancellation. The Blue Angels did not perform last year after a fatal crash in Tennessee.

Bill Mangas, medical operations manager for the air show, said his team saw fewer medical emergencies this year compared to 2016. On Saturday, the team treated 17 patients and sent one to a local hospital. On Sunday, the team treated an estimated 36 patients by 3 p.m., and sent three of them to local hospitals. Mangas attributed the decline in medical emergencies to cooler temperatures.

“The breeze was definitely a life-saver,” he said.

» RELATED: What to eat and drink before or after Dayton Air Show

Highlights of the show included daring acts by the F-18 Super Hornet and the Redline aerobatic flight duo. Sean D. Tucker, who thrilled the crowd with his tight maneuvers and excessive speed, pulled G-force after G-force and talked through the speakers to the air show crowd.

This could very well be one of Tucker’s last solo appearances at the Dayton Air Show. Tucker, who flies the single-seat, 400-horsepower Oracle Challenger III biplane, said he will retire from solo flying after the 2018 air show season. He hopes to find a sponsor to launch a formation flying team as his next chapter in aviation takes center stage.

“I love Dayton, and I love sky dancing,” he shouted from the cockpit of his spinning aircraft.

WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Saturday at the Vectren Dayton Air Show

Published: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 11:05 AM
Updated: Saturday, June 24, 2017 @ 1:56 PM

The flying acts for the 2017 Dayton Vectren Air Show have wrapped up for Saturday. Gates for Saturday’s show will close at 6 p.m. Below you can watch video highlights from Saturday’s show. Gates will reopen on Sunday at 9 a.m.

>>Dayton Air Show: What we know today

>> Photos from Saturday at the Dayton Air Show

Saturday’s line-up included flights from the following acts and others:

  • Suzuki Extra 300 
  • B-25 Doolittle Raid Commemoration 
  • Geico Skytypers 
  • Sean Tucker 
  • Misty Blues 
  • F-18 Super Hornet

The Thunderbirds cancelled their Saturday flight following a crash during a practice flight on Friday afternoon.  It will be determined later if the group will fly Sunday.

RELATED: 1 of 2 Thunderbirds pilots released following crash at air show

MORE: Eyewitness describes Thunderbird crash

UPDATE @ 2:50 p.m.:

Live flights at today’s air show have concluded.

UPDATE @ 2:38 p.m.:

Redline 1440 is taking to the sky now at the Dayton Air Show.

UPDATE @ 2:30 p.m.:

The F-18 Super Hornet is performing now and will be followed by a performance by Redline 1440.

UPDATE @ 2:06 p.m.:

The Misty Blues are now flying at today’s show.

RELATED: Dayton Air Show: What to know about Dayton’s biggest air spectacle

UPDATE @ 1:51 p.m.:

Sean Tucker is now in the air at today’s air show performing air acrobatics for the crowd.

UPDATE @ 1:31 p.m.:

The Geico Skytypers are taking flight now.  Earlier this week, Dayton Daily News reporter Kara Driscoll flew with the team.

WATCH: In close formation, reporter rides in squadron of vintage war planes

UPDATE @ 1:12 p.m.:

The P-51 is currently performing a solo flight for the audience at the Dayton International Airport. The F-35 is up next for the Heritage Flight.

UPDATE @ 12:50 p.m.:

A B-25 Dolittle Raid Commemoration is getting underway right now.

RELATED: Crowds swarm AF museum as B-25s arrive to honor Doolittle Raiders

UPDATE @ 12:30 p.m.:

The T-50 jet gave the crowd a demonstration this afternoon and was soon followed by an aerial performance from Rob Holland.

UPDATE @ 12:11 p.m.:

Suzuki Extra 300 has taken to the sky at the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show.

UPDATE @ 12:03 p.m.:

Redline, a two plane act, performed a brief teaser for the crowd ahead of their mid-afternoon performance.

UPDATE @ 11:54 a.m.:

The Misty Blues are parachuting in to begin the 2017 Vectren Dayton Air Show. MSgt Alyson Jones is performing the national anthem.

UPDATE @ 11:22 a.m.:

News Center 7’s Caroline Reinwald spent some time this morning, before the air show begins talking with the Geico Skytypers.