Remembering the pilot of SkyEye HD

October 17, 2008 8:16:34 PM PDT
He always put others before himself and he loved to fly. That's how family and friends are remembering the late pilot John Downhower. He was at the helm of SkyEye HD on Monday on the way to cover breaking news when the helicopter crashed in Montgomery County. Photographer and reporter Dave Garrett also died in the crash. On Friday, those who knew Downhower shared memories of the husband and father.

Taking the podium first, was John Downhower's brothers, James and Michael. They talked about how throughout their lives, their big brother was always watching out for them. They say John's most important characteristic was his unwavering friendship and his ability to put others first.

"You knew John once and he's your firend. That's how it is," said James Downhower. "There are a couple of things I want you to take away from this and leave here remembering, his unselfish acts for friends. That's what he was about."

As family and friends took turns telling stories, they reminisced about how this avid pilot who started flying at age 18 and eventually took a job flying over breaking news stories for televisiosn stations, including here at Channel 13, actually started his career in law enforcement.

"I remember me being the guinea pig and both of them telling me to be a criminal and telling me to go run in the back yard and they'd go chase me with their batons and cuff me and drag me back to the house," said brother Michael.

They say they are comforted in knowing John left this earth doing what he loved most. And as a final celebration of his life, they took the service outside for a tribute to John in the sky.

Downhower leaves behind two children and a wife. As for the accident, that's still under investigation.

Tomorrow, services will be held for Dave Garrett at the River Pointe Community Church in Richmond. That service begins at 11am.

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, contributions can be made to:

Mitchell Downhower College Fund
Any Wells Fargo Bank

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