By Public Radio Staff
Three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees were killed in a helicopter crash in Brewster County while conducting aerial surveys on Saturday.
TPWD identified the men as wildlife biologist Dewey Stockbridge, fish and wildlife technician Brandon White and state wildlife veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar. The men were conducting surveys for desert bighorn sheep on the Black Gap wildlife management area in South Brewster County, which borders Big Bend National Park, according to TPWD.
The pilot survived Saturday’s crash and was transported to El Paso for further treatment.
TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith said the men were known and highly regarded for the “immense passion, dedication, and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine”
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Smith in a statement. “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.”
In a statement issued Sunday morning, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott extended his condolences to the employees’ families.
“Our hearts ache today for those who died in this tragic accident. Cecilia and I are deeply saddened by this loss and we extend our sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims,” the statement read.
“I ask all Texans to keep these families in their thoughts and prayers,” the Governor wrote.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Game Wardens are investigating the incident.