3 Texas Parks & Wildlife employees die in helicopter crash near border


The Rio Grande river that marks the boundary between the United States (to the right of the river ) and Mexico (to the left) is seen on January 17, 2019 in Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

BREWSTER Co., Texas (KETK/KTSM) — Three Texas Parks and Wildlife employees are dead following a helicopter crash Saturday in West Texas.

According to the organization, the men were conducting aerial surveys of desert bighorn sheep in the Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County — about two hours Southeast of Alpine.

The employees were identified as:

  • Dewey Stockbridge, biologist
  • Brandon White, fish and wildlife technician
  • Dr. Bob Dittmar, state wildlife veterinarian

The pilot of the helicopter did survive and was taken to an El Paso hospital for treatment.

“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident.

These men were consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded by their peers and partners alike for the immense passion, dedication, and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine. 

Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains. 

We will miss Dewey, Brandon, and Dr. Bob deeply and dearly.  All of us at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Stockbridge, White, and Dittmar families in the wake of this devastating tragedy and continue to pray for the health and recovery of the pilot.”

Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director

Investigators have not said what caused the helicopter to crash. DPS, the FAA, and Texas Game Wardens are currently investigating the incident.

Gov. Gregg Abbott released the following statement on the incident:

“Our hearts ache today for those who died in this tragic accident. Cecilia and I are deeply saddened by this loss and we extend our sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims. I ask all Texans to keep these families in their thoughts and prayers.”

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