BREWSTER COUNTY, Texas – Officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department shared photos of the three employees killed in a helicopter crash in West Texas on Saturday.
The three men killed in the crash are Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White, and State Wildlife Veterinarian Robert Dittmar.
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said TPWD executive director Carter Smith.
The helicopter was in the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep when the crash occurred.
“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,” said Smith.
Dittmar was the first-ever TPWD wildlife staff veterinarian, according to a Facebook post from officials. He started working for TPWD in 2014 and had more than 30 years of experience. “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,” according to the post.
Stockbridge was the lead wildlife biologist at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area just south of Alpine. Officials said his office consisted of 23,000 acres of wild Trans-Pecos habitat. He started working for TPWD in 2005 and “was instrumental in restoring pronghorn and desert bighorn sheep to their native range.”
White was a fish and wildlife technician based out of Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area who started with TPWD in 2016, officials said. “He played a vital role in preserving the health of Texas wildlife” and assisted with surveys and the translocations of pronghorn and bighorn sheep.
“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,” said Smith.
The pilot of the helicopter survived the crash and was taken to a hospital in El Paso. Currently, the pilot’s condition is unknown.
The crash is under investigation by officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Game Wardens.
“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,” Smith said.