Three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees died in a helicopter crash in West Texas on Saturday.
Dr. Bob Dittmar, Dewey Stockbridge and Brandon White were conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep on the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County when the helicopter crashed, according to wildlife department.
The three worked for department as a state wildlife veterinarian, wildlife biologist and fish and wildlife technician, respectively.
The pilot, a private contractor, survived and was taken to El Paso for treatment, the department said.
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"No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident," said Carter Smith, executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in a written 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 important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine."
The incident is currently under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety, Federal Aviation Administration and Texas Game Wardens, the TWPD said.
In a statement released Sunday morning, Gov. Greg Abbott asked Texans to keep the families in their thoughts and prayers.
"Our hearts ache today for those who died in this tragic accident," Abbott said. "Cecilia and I are deeply saddened by this loss and we extend our sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims."