AUSTIN — While conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep in West Texas on Saturday three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees died in a helicopter crash on TPWD’s Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County.
One of the victims was longtime Kerrville veterinarian, Dr. Robert Dittmar, who joined the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in 2014.
The other victims were Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White. The pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash and was transported to El Paso for further treatment.
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. “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.”
Dittmar was an expert on chronic wasting disease in deer across the state, and regularly spoke about it locally.
The Texas Department of Public Safety, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Texas Game Wardens are currently investigating the incident. Further details will be shared with the public as they become available.