Texas newlyweds leaving their wedding reception Saturday were killed moments later when the helicopter they were aboard crashed on a hill about a mile away, KDFM reported.
William Troy Byler III, and Bailee Ackerman, both 23, were killed when the aircraft went down near the family ranch, Byler’s grandfather, William Byler, confirmed to KTRK.
The helicopter’s pilot, Gerald Green Lawrence, 76, of Houston, also died in the crash in northwest Uvalde County, KPRC reported.
A video shows the moment the helicopter took off from the reception, hours after the couple exchanged vows, KPRC reported. Family and friends cheered as the aircraft took off, the television station reported.
The bride and groom were seniors at Sam Houston State University, according to a tweet from the school’s newspaper, The Houstonian.
Byler was majoring in agriculture engineering, while Ackerman was majoring in agriculture communication, the newspaper reported.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, KSAT reported. The agency said that a Bell 260B helicopter crashed about 1:47 a.m., 15 miles outside the city of Uvalde, the television station reported.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the helicopter “crashed under unknown circumstances in a remote area,” KSAT reported.
W.T. Byler, a company owned by the groom's father, released a statement that said, "At this time we request that your thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved."
Katie Ellis, who said she was best friends with Bailee, told KSAT that the couple loved to be with family and were members of Sam Houston State University’s rodeo team.
“(Bailee) was full of life, beautiful, and could light up a room with her smile,” Ellis told the television station in an email. “When Bailee met Will she completely fell in love. Will was so adventurous and lived life to the fullest every single day and Bailee always went with the flow.”
"To meet your soulmate here at school and to lose all of that, that's just heartbreaking," Sam Houston State University student Amanda Rincon Morales told KPRC.
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