Family honors adored Kerrville veterinarian killed in Texas Parks and Wildlife helicopter crash

Dr. Robert Dittmar, two other TDPW employees died in crash while surveying bighorn sheep in West Texas

KERRVILLE, Texas – Community members in Kerrville and people across Texas are heartbroken over the loss of adored local veterinarian and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employee Dr. Robert Dittmar.

Dittmar was one of three TPWD members killed in a helicopter crash over the weekend while conducting aerial surveys of the desert bighorn sheep at the TDPW Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County in West Texas.

The words from those who cherished Dittmar say it all.

“There’s nothing but pride when it comes to my dad. I was just so proud to be his daughter and to know the legacy and the impact he had,” said his daughter, Whitney Hild.

“He was a man of few words, but the words he said meant something,” his son, Trey Dittmar, said. “His grandchildren were very important to him, and he was so proud of them.”

“I loved him. It was amazing to know him,” said Dr. Dittmar’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Hayden Dittmar.

“He died doing what he loved,” said 6-year-old granddaughter Paige Dittmar.

Dr. Dittmar was incredibly supportive of his children and grandchildren’s involvement in 4H and FFA clubs. He was even the president of the local Stock Show Association at one point.

“He loved natural resources, loved water; he loved animals. He loved the deer of Texas and was working so hard concerning chronic wasting disease,” his wife, Bernadine Dittmar, said.

He was the proud owner of the Kerrville Veterinary Clinic, which has been around for around 30 years. He was so successful and well known in the community that he eventually had to move to a larger facility.

Dr. David Cardwell, who worked alongside Dr. Dittmar for 25 years and owns the vet clinic, said he was distraught when he heard the news.

“Bob was a man you could count on through thick and thin. A man you knew. If you needed him at 3 a.m., you could call, and he would be there. He was always looking for a way to help other people and his community,” Dr. Cardwell said.

“It just hits you in the stomach. It’s hard to accept. The advice (Dr. Dittmar) was able to give put me on a path of where I am today as a veterinarian, and that’s kind of the effect he had on everybody that he came in contact with,” said Dr. Richard Grafe, a vet at Kerrville Veterinary Clinic.

“He was a fabulous veterinarian, but what drew him to Texas Parks and Wildlife was the bighorn sheep. He was involved in the relocation of them, and it gives us comfort to know that’s what he was doing,” Bernadine Dittmar said.

The community’s love has brought solace to Dr. Dittmar’s family members, who are moved and appreciative of the support.

“It’s just amazing to see people loved him as much as I loved him,” Whitney said. “He deserved all of it.”

The two other team members who died in the crash are Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge and Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White.

The pilot flying the helicopter survived and was taken to an El Paso hospital.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

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Dr. Robert Dittmar was one of three Texas Parks and Wildlife members killed in a helicopter crash over the weekend while conducting aerial surveys of the desert bighorn sheep at the TDPW Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County in West Texas.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith released the following statement:

“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident. 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. 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. All of us at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Stockbridge, White, and Dittmar families in the wake of this devastating tragedy and continue to pray for the health and recovery of the pilot.”

Gov. Greg Abbott issued this statement regarding the incident:

“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. I ask all Texans to keep these families in their thoughts and prayers.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also offered condolences to the families of the crash victims:

“Jan and I are deeply saddened to hear the news of this horrible accident, and our prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of the victims. We ask all Texans to join us in mourning their passing.”

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