Long-time friend of injured pilot thanks first responders on pilot's behalf

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Since they were teenagers, Darren Ott and Chase Cormier have been friends but as close as brothers.

One became a Houston firefighter and the other a police officer. They were in each other's weddings and even started a small business on the side. Both first responders have seen people on their worst days. Now, each knows what that can be like.

Cormier was piloting one of HPD's helicopters early Saturday morning when the aircraft suddenly lost control. It crashed into the office of an apartment building. Both Cormier and his partner, tactical officer Jason Knox, were pinned in the wreckage until they could be cut out.

"It's so hard to see him going through this," said Ott. "He's one of the best guys I know."

READ MORE: Helicopter crash leaves HPD officer dead, pilot injured

Knox died at the hospital of his injuries. Cormier survived but remains in critical condition with serious injuries. As soon as he heard the news, Ott got to the hospital as quickly as he could.

READ MORE: Here's what we know about the pilot severely injured in HPD helicopter crash

"I knew that was him because I knew his shift," recalled Ott on Sunday. "I saw him as they were taking him into surgery and told him, 'I love you brother.'"

Ott said it's difficult for Cormier to breathe or speak right now but that he's "more concerned about gratitude and other people and not himself."

After the surgery, Cormier asked Ott to do something for him.

"He wanted to make sure Jason's family is taken care of, and I've been talking to the [Houston Police Officers' Union] about that," explained Ott. "And then, he wanted me to thank every single fire fighter who was involved and so far, there were so many there. It's hard to get to the stations, but I'm trying to get to every one today."

Meanwhile, the police officers 'union announced a way for the public to help the families of Cormier and Knox via an online donation page.

If you'd like to donate, click here.

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