Man dies in helicopter crash

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, October 13, 2012

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CRASH SITE – A Decatur man and two others were killed when a Robinson R44 helicopter crashed in Central Texas Thursday night. Photo courtesy of News 4 WOAI/

A Decatur man and two others were killed in a helicopter crash Thursday night in Central Texas.

Rusty Aaron

Rusty Aaron, 26, died when the Robinson R44 helicopter in which he was riding crashed on a ranch in northern Kendall County in the area of Ranch Road 1888 and Farm Road 1376. The site is within 20 miles of Fredericksburg.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Jason Reyes confirmed another man and woman were killed in the accident, but their identities, nor a cause for the crash, could be confirmed by press time Friday.

Aaron, a 2005 Slidell High School graduate, was the son of Ray and Melinda Aaron of Decatur. His sister is Randi Anderson, also of Decatur.

“He was a happy, jolly person,” said his aunt, Sam Slate. “He loved life and never met a stranger. Everybody he met, he wanted to get to know them.”

Aaron had been living in Central Texas, at Lake McQueeney for about a year, but Slate said he made regular trips back to Wise County.

“I never saw him frown,” she said. “He was an overweight guy with a big belly, and it was always going because he was always laughing and happy.

“He hugged everybody.”

Slate said her nephew had two passions: John Deere Tractors and helicopters.

Aaron and his companions rented the R44 from Veracity Aviation Thursday night, and according to Chief Deputy Matt King, the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the helicopter’s owner at 10:15 p.m. saying the chopper was missing.

The caller had received a notification that the emergency beacon was activated on the helicopter, and he had been unable to contact the pilot or passengers.

The helicopter was flying from Midland to Seguin, and they had landed in Fredericksburg to refuel. They left Fredericksburg at 7:30 p.m., and the emergency beacon was activated at 8.

The Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the local volunteer fire department and emergency medical personnel embarked on a search that lasted all night. The owner of the missing helicopter flew another chopper from Seguin to Fredericksburg to assist in the search.

A DPS helicopter was temporarily grounded in the night due to cloud cover, but after daylight, another aircraft located the crash site in a heavily wooded area.

King said the site was located about 8 a.m., and ground personnel were not able to get to the scene until close to 9.

“It took us quite a while to get there because of the rough terrain,” he said. “When we got back there, we discovered three bodies.”

The accident is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration, and no information about the possible cause was available at press time.

In the meantime, the Aaron family mourns the loss of a son and brother.

“You know, ‘You are My Sunshine,'” said his aunt. “Well, he was a sunshine, always a big, huge smile. He loved people … and they all seemed to have loved him.”

The family requests that memorials be made to the Clinton Pannell Memorial Scholarship Fund, 403 S. Washburn St., Decatur, TX 76234 or Montague County Cowboy Church Building Fund, P.O. Box 1536, Bowie, TX 76230.

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