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Grandfather who ‘loved flying’ named among West Virginia helicopter crash victims

Grandfather who ‘loved flying’ named among West Virginia helicopter crash victims
‘Family meant the world to him’, says son of 69-year-old killed in Logan County

A grandfather has been remembered by family after he was named by West Virginia authorities as one of six people killed in a helicopter crash last week.

Donald Sandhoff, 69, had been flying on the “Huey” Vietnam War-era helicopter which crashed on to Route 17 in Logan County last Wednesday, his family told WRAL-TV.

Speaking on Saturday, Carl Sandhoff said his father was a “family man” who “loved flying” after being stationed for years at Fort Bragg, a US Army base in North Carolina, his home state.

“He was a family man, family meant the world to him”,” he said. “Don was a loving husband, father and grandfather…He will be greatly missed by many people”.

Mr Sandhoff explained that his father had been among those who travelled to Logan County Airport last week for the seventh annual “Huey reunion” event.

The gathering was a highly anticipated reunion for Vietnam War-era veterans and aviation enthusiasts with a fondness for the “Huey”, also known as a Bell UH-1B aircraft, which crashed. The helicopter had also flown in films including Die Hard, its owners claimed.

A friend of another victim, 53-year-old John Nagle, posted in a Facebook tribute last week that his “heart is broken” and that the resident of Austin, Texas, “loved the old military vets who were on their last ride.”

<p>Emergency personnel at the scene of the helicopter crash in Logan County, WV</p>

Emergency personnel at the scene of the helicopter crash in Logan County, WV

“John is such a good, kind individual,” wrote Pepper Lonney. “He loved to talk, so he would listen to their stories and shared his experiences with them. That just lit him up.

“He was passionate about flying and was helping me find a plane to finish my pilot’s license,” the friend added. “John leaves behind a wife and three kids, along with hundreds of friends who will miss him terribly.”

Four others were killed in the crash and an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is ongoing. Authorities are yet to identify the exact reason for the tragedy however, which came just days into a week-long event at Logan County’s airport organised by Marpat Aviation.

<p>John Nagle, 53, of Austin, Texas</p>

John Nagle, 53, of Austin, Texas

A message on the group’s website advertised flights in the 1962-built aircraft for a $250 donation for fuel, while passengers could pay a smaller amount to ride. Marpat has yet to comment publicly on the crash.

West Virginia’s medical examiner released the names of the victims on Saturday as John Nagle, 53; Kevin Warren, 51; Carolyn O’Connor, 73; Marvin Bledsoe, 64, and Jack Collins, 65, who died alongside Sandhoff.

On Friday, the burnt-out wreckage of the crashed helicopter was removed from the state highway where it came down, approximately 3.7 miles northeast of the Logan County Airport. 

Additional reporting by the Associated Press