On Aug. 8, while conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep in West Texas, three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees died in a helicopter crash on the Department’s Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County.
The victims were Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White, and State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar. The pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash, and was transported to El Paso for further treatment.
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Executive Director Carter Smith in a statement. “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 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.”
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson told the Avalanche that he knew Stockbridge and White personally, and indicated Dittmar was planning to retire at the end of August.
“It really hits home for us. It was very tragic, and it’s going to touch our community. It’s especially going to touch the Parks and Wildlife community because they’re all so close. They were all good guys, and it’s pretty senseless,” said Dodson.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Texas Game Wardens are currently investigating the incident. Further details will be released as they become available.