The search for the US Airman who fell from a C-130 and plunged into the cold Gulf of Mexico has been largely called off, according to the Air Force and Coast Guard.
Last week, Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff fell from a cargo plane into the waters south of the Florida Panhandle during a training exercise. While initial reports indicate that he opened his parachute and treaded water after landing, visual contact was eventually lost.
With the Gulf region being unusually cold this fall, the waters were considerably less warm than they normally are, making the threat of hypothermia ever-more hazardous.
Following nearly four days of searching, the USCG called off their search after scouring over 700 square miles of water and coastline.
“It’s not an easy decision,” said Chief Petty Officer Lauren Jorgensen of the Coast Guard’s Eighth District in New Orleans. “Every piece of information that can be gathered about the person’s characteristics helps in creating our search patterns, and then determining how long it makes sense to keep searching.”
The US Air Force was also somewhat deflated to learn that their beloved Combat Controller was likely not going to be recovered alive.
“Cole was a man with deep-rooted beliefs who dedicated himself to God, our freedoms, peace, and his family,” said Lt. Col. Steven Cooper, Sergeant Condiff’s commanding officer. “This is a tragic loss to the squadron, the Special Tactics community and our nation.”
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