A beloved father. A devoted mom. Family and friends mourn victims of chopper crash
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Family and friends of those killed in Tuesday’s helicopter crash at Kauai’s missile range facility said they are devastated, shocked ― and still processing what happened.
Several said when they saw the news of the crash on social media, they started making phone calls.
Matt VanAken immediately thought about his friend, Matthew Haider.
“This feels like something that he does,” Van Aken recalls thinking. “I immediately called his wife. She said that she sent him a text at 10:11 a.m. in the morning ― ‘fly safe’ ― and he gave it a thumbs up.”
“That was the last correspondence she actually had with him.” And it was minutes before the crash.
VanAken says he and Haider had been friends for 11 years.
They met on the Big Island and both moved to Kauai a couple years ago.
Haider, who is originally from Oregon, was working onboard the chopper on Tuesday as a crew member and mechanic. VanAken described the 44-year-old as an amazing husband and father of two boys who loved the outdoors and was a constant in his life.
“We just connected on a different level where we were always in each other’s lives, always checking in with each other,” VanAken said. “Just all the laughs, you know? All the fun times.”
“I think I’ll just miss his friendship more than anything.”
All four killed in the crash were employees for Croman Corporation, a military contractor.
Loved ones of Erika Teves-Valdez say the 42-year-old was a wife and mother of two who loved playing volleyball. She was a mechanic and member of the air crew on the helicopter.
The chief pilot onboard was identified as Daniel Maurice, 64, of Washington state.
And Patrick Rader, 55, was the command pilot. He was a resident of Kauai.
PMRF officials say counseling services are available to anyone on base who needs them.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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