Update: The cause of death has been released for the FBI agents who died while training in Virginia Beach last week. The medical examiner says the deaths were both accidental and the cause was blunt force trauma due to the fall.
Virginia Beach, Va.- The agents who died during training were part of the FBI’s super-elite Hostage Rescue Team. They were training Friday off the Coast of Virginia Beach.
According to sources briefed on what happened, the agents were using a ship-boarding technique called “fast roping.” From a hovering helicopter, they slide down ropes like a firefighter slides down a pole. Two of the agents fell 100 feet into the water to their deaths.
They were flown by FBI helo to the hospital and it lost a door in flight over Virginia Beach.
On Monday, days after the accident, the FBI released no further details. Navy officials also refused to discuss it, referring questions to the FBI.
Beach police said they didn’t know about the fatal accident until days later. The Coast Guard said it heard about the accident, but was not asked to help, and is not investigating.
A spokesperson for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said a helicopter landed unannounced Friday at the hospital, carrying the two agents. The spokesperson said it’s rare for helicopters to touch down without first notifying doctors.
Before Friday, the Hostage Rescue Team has suffered just two training fatalities in 30 years. One of those was a fall from a helicopter. The FBI said it was reviewing the incident, and it is not clear if any other agency will investigate.