Update: A149 Coast Road between Cley and Salthouse reopened after US helicopter crash

USAF Helicopter crash at Cley. The bodies are recovered.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY USAF Helicopter crash at Cley. The bodies are recovered. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Saturday, January 18, 2014
1:23 PM

The A149 Coast Road between Salthouse and Cley has reopened more than a week after the US Air Force helicopter crash which killed four aircrew.

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It was opened at 12.20pm and the police cordon around the crash scene has also been lifted.

A Norfolk police spokesman said: “We would like to thank the local community and those wishing to use the marshlands for their patience and understanding while the authorities dealt with this local disruption.”

The Coast Road was blocked to motorists between the Dun Cow pub in Salthouse and Old Woman’s Lane on the edge of Cley, just before the Cley Marshes Visitors Centre.

Run by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust (NWT), the centre has been a base for rescue teams since the tragedy on January 7.

It is due to open its doors to the public at 10am tomorrow.

The reserve will continue to have limited access - only one hide is accessible because of storm surge damage before Christmas.

Work to retrieve the wreckage from the helicopter crash site has now been completed and USAF and RAF teams are expected to leave the site by the end of today (Saturday).

Captains Christopher S Stover, 28, and Sean M Ruane, 31, technical support sergeant Dale E Mathews, 37, and staff sergeant Afton M Ponce, 28, were killed after the Pave Hawk aircraft, from RAF Lakenheath, crashed in the marshes on during a low-flying exercise.

The NWT has been working with the military HazMat team and the Environment Agency over the past two weeks to ensure the pollution associated with the crash has been dealt with as effectively as possible.

The crash site has been fenced off to allow for the necessary ongoing monitoring, which will last up to a further two years.

Chief executive of the NWT, Brendan Joyce, said: “We have been unable to work on storm surge repairs while the military have been present on the site but we have been working closely with the Environment Agency and Natural England to find a solution to the technically complex breaches which are still allowing sea water on to the fresh water marshes during high tides.

“We will be prioritising infrastructure repairs to the wider reserve and starting work as soon as we possibly can.”

Access along the Cley Beach road will reopen again from tomorrow.

The East Bank still remains hazardous due to debris from the December floods so it is likely that it will remain closed for the time being.

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