BREWSTER COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Three Texas Parks And Wildlife Department employees were killed in a helicopter crash in West Texas on Saturday.
The men have been identified by TPWD as Dewey Stockbridge, a wildlife biologist, fish and wildlife technician Brandon White, and state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar.
They were conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep in the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County when the aircraft crashed, TPWD said.
The pilot of the helicopter, a private contractor, survived and has been taken to El Paso for further treatment.
In a statement, Governor Greg Abbott paid tribute to the victims.
“Our hearts ache today for those who died in this tragic accident,” the governor said.
“Cecilia and I are deeply saddened by this loss and we extend our sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims. I ask all Texans to keep these families in their thoughts and prayers.”
Carter Smith, TPWD executive director, described the three men as “consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded.”
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” he said.
“Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains.
“We will miss Dewey, Brandon, and Dr. Bob deeply and dearly.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Game Wardens are investigating the incident.