Evergreen grad killed in helicopter crash in England

Christopher Stover, 28, was participating in training mission

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photoCapt. Christopher Stover and his wife, Sarah, on their wedding day, Dec. 1 2012.

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From The Stover Family

On behalf of the Stover family, my wife, my daughter and my daughter-in-law, and I want to express our deepest appreciation of the support and prayers we have received from our extended family, friends, co-workers and people that knew Chris.

Chris was doing what he truly enjoyed, flying. Chris touched so many lives and left everyone better for it. We are proud of his service to our country. We all miss him so very much.

Air Force Capt. Christopher Stover, 28, who grew up in Vancouver and graduated from Evergreen High School in 2004, was one of four crew members killed in a helicopter crash in England on Tuesday.

Stover was serving a three-year deployment in England, and had completed tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to his family. He was married Dec. 1, 2012, to his wife, Sarah, who lives in England. His parents, Maribel and Richard Stover, live in Vancouver.

Capt. Sean M. Ruane, Tech. Sgt. Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sgt. Afton M. Ponce were the other HH-60G crew members killed in the crash on the Norfolk coast Tuesday evening.

Stover was a pilot on the Pave Hawk helicopter, which was performing a low-altitude training mission when the crash occurred, according to the Royal Air Force Lakenheath website. The crash site was described as an area of debris on difficult terrain in a marsh.

Pave Hawks — a modified version of the better-known Black Hawks — are mostly used for combat search-and-rescue missions, mainly to recover downed air crew members or other personnel during war and other hostile situations. They typically practice flying low and fast, often at altitudes of hundreds, rather than thousands, of feet.

Stover’s father, Richard, issued a statement Wednesday: “On behalf of the Stover family, my wife, my daughter and my daughter-in-law, and I want to express our deepest appreciation of the support and prayers we have received from our extended family, friends, co-workers and people that knew Chris. Chris was doing what he truly enjoyed, flying. Chris touched so many lives and left everyone better for it. We are proud of his service to our country. We all miss him so very much.”

Stover maintained his ties to Clark County, and in 2012 visited Harmony Elementary School, where he had attended, to speak with students who had sent him letters overseas for Veterans Day, said Gail Spolar, Evergreen Public Schools spokeswoman.

He graduated in the top 5 percent of his class at Evergreen High School, earning a 4.0 grade point average. He was involved in student leadership and earned a number of scholarships to various universities.

Patti McMaster, who teaches social studies classes at Evergreen, taught Stover as a freshman and as a senior. She remembers him not only as a student, but also as an alumnus who would regularly return to visit after graduating.

“He was one of those kids who, when he would come to town, would always find time to come visit the old teacher and take me out to lunch,” she said.

Stover was a competitor on the school’s “We The People” team, which rigorously studied the Constitution for competitions at the state level. A military honor guard from Joint Base Lewis-McChord will honor him at the state “We The People” competition in the Washington State Capitol building on Saturday, Spolar said. Participants and others will wear green and gold ribbons to remember him, she said. About 500 people are expected to attend.

For “We The People,” McMaster said that she required her students to do some sort of community service.

“I think that is very clear that he did that the rest of his life,” she said. “He’s just this kind, caring, nurturing kid.”

McMaster described Stover as “brilliant,” adding that he had taken advanced high school math as a sixth grader, so by the time he was a junior at Evergreen, he had completed all of their math courses and many classes at Clark College.

“He’s so outstanding, and to think where he might have led us and what he might have ended up doing … it’s a true tragedy,” she said. “It’s devastating.”

During high school, he ran cross country, and later, as a senior at the Air Force Academy, Stover ran in the 2008 Boston Marathon, placing 217th in the race with a time of 2 hours, 42 minutes and 47 seconds. It was the second time he had completed the race and was believed to be the top finisher among runners with ties to the Clark County area.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

UK officials give update on U.S. Air Force crash

Authorities in England cordoned off flooded marshes to investigate the crash of a military helicopter that killed four US Air Force members. The Pave Hawk helicopter slammed into the UK coast during a training mission on Tuesday evening.