Families mourn our pilot, photographer

October 14, 2008 5:58:50 PM PDT
A day after the crash of SkyEye 13 HD, family members opened up about our colleagues who lost their lives. The tragic accident took the lives of pilot John Downhower and photographer/reporter Dave Garrett while they were en route to a news story.One of Dave Garrett's family's fondest memories is a visit Dave paid with the SkyEye helicopter to his four-year-old son Adam's school during transportation week. Dave's parent's didn't want to talk on camera today, but told us he had just returned from a week-long vacation to his sister's house in Nevada. Monday morning, before heading off to work, Dave shared one last cup of coffee with his father Alton.

On the other side of town in Conroe, the family of John Downhower is also trying to come to terms with this tragic accident.

"It's hard," said John's brother Jim Downhower. "It's a shock for everybody, I think, because there's hurricanes... That's when I would worry, not yesterday. That was just a normal day."

John's father-in-law Ron Aguilar said, "I really never thought about any fear of him flying around because I knew how conscientious he was."

They say John had been flying since he was just 18 years old. But during this time of grief, both families are taking time out to remember the good times.

"I had always considered myself so lucky that my daughter found somebody like John," Aguilar recalled. "We're so proud of him."

They say John was always trying to help someone out -- like the time he jumped on an airplane to fix the sprinkler system at his parents' house.

As for his partner, Dave's family says he was going back to college to finish his degree. He loved writing poems and playing the guitar. And both men loved flying.

"He did have a passion for flying," Jim said. "If there's any good coming out of it, he died doing what he loved doing and that's important."

Services honoring both men have been scheduled:

    John Downhower Memorial
    Friday, October 17, 11am
    Fellowship of the Woodlands
    One Fellowship Dr.
    The Woodlands, TX 77384

    David Garrett Funeral
    Saturday, October 18, 11am
    River Pointe Community Church
    5000 Ransom Rd.
    Richmond, TX 77469

The families of both Garrett and Downhower are asking that you contribute to funds set up for the men's children, in lieu of flowers.

For the Garrett family, contributions can be made to:

    Adam Ryan Garrett Educational Fund
    PO Box 1811
    Sugarland, Tx 77478-1811
For the Downhower family, you can make contributions at any Wells Fargo bank by asking specifically for the Mitchell Downhower College Fund.

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