Helicopter crash in Waller County kills one

September 25, 2010 5:34:35 PM PDT
There are questions after a pilot was killed when his chopper crashed in Waller County Saturday morning. Investigators say the aircraft was made from a kit. The chopper went down of FM 1458 near Clemons Switch Road in Waller County. Investigators are looking into how it all happened.

The town of Pattison has fewer than 500 residents. It's a place where people know their neighbors and on Saturday morning, Pattison lost one of its own.

In a pasture a few miles outside town, the small helicopter fell from the sky. Neighbors heard the crash and saw the smoke. The 57-year-old pilot was killed, its believed, on impact.

"Actually, he flew it quite a bit on weekends and our information was that him and his wife would fly it to Bellville to eat at a restaurant," said Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith.

On Saturday, though, he was alone in the helicopter investigators say he had built himself several years ago, taking it up when the weather was bright and clear. He also had another weekend ritual -- breakfast at Hard Times Barbecue -- just a couple of hours before he died. He was there with his family.

"Lots of times, they'd have their little granddaughter with them and we'd make Mickey Mouse pancakes for her," said Hard Times owner Nelda Strum.

On Saturday night, he probably would have been at Pattison's First United Methodist Church, which his family attends, to enjoy an annual spaghetti supper. Instead, the neighbors preparing it are trying to comprehend that a friend has been taken from them.

"You have the shock value first, like you can't believe it and then it gets confirmed and you thank God he was a member of this church and his family will all have that support but our grief is for those left behind," said church member and friend Bud Dumesnil.

And that's the strength of being a small town, small enough to feel the loss of one of its own and to gather around a family in pain. On Saturday afternoon, prayers were said over that spaghetti supper in memory of a friend missing from the table and for those grieving his loss.


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