Three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees were killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday while conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep at the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in West Texas’s Brewster County.
Wildlife biologist Dewey Stockbridge, technician Brandon White and state wildlife veterinarian Bob Dittmar were killed in the crash. The pilot, a private contractor, was transported to El Paso for treatment.
“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,” TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith said in a statement.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Game Wardens are currently investigating the incident.
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” Smith said. “These men were consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded by their peers and partners alike for the immense passion, dedication and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine.“
The Black Gap Wildlife Management Area borders Big Bend National Park, spanning 103,000 acres.