Two young Texas students faced a tragic and untimely death when the helicopter that whisked them away from their wedding crashed into the side of a hill outside of Uvalde.
Bailee Ackerman and Will Byler, who were seniors at Sam Houston State University, are thought to have died in the early hours of Sunday around an hour and a half after taking off from Byler’s family ranch, where the ceremony was held. Guests were seen cheering and waving light ropes as the aircraft lifted off with the happy couple inside, according to the Daily Mail, although it is not yet known if the newlyweds were being taken on a tour in the helicopter or heading to another location. Their pilot also didn’t survive the crash, which happened just a mile away from the ranch.
Friend and wedding guest Eric Smith wrote on Facebook, “The pilot, Jerry, was also on board. There were no survivors.”
Smith also described the ceremony as a “fairy tale wedding,” where the happy couple was surrounded by their family and closest friends.
It is with deepest sadness that we announce the tragic passing of two Bearkats: Will Byler (Agriculture Engineering senior) & Bailee Ackerman Byler (Ag Comm senior) in a helicopter accident departing their wedding. We ask that you keep the families in your thoughts and prayers. pic.twitter.com/5d3EVljNMx— The Houstonian (@HoustonianNews) November 5, 2018
Ackerman’s maid of honor, Jessica Stilley, paid a beautiful homage to her best friend on social media, saying her heart was “broken in a million little pieces” as she tried to picture life without her best pal.
“I’m so sad to even be captioning these pictures with this, but you know I just have to share with everyone how beautiful you looked on your wedding day like I normally would have,” she said.
Stilley also recalled being so happy for her friend that she cried tears of joy for the beautiful bride while helping her get ready for the biggest day of her life.
“I’m so happy you married the man of your dreams and found the precious love you deserved with him. We always said we’d find the men to sweep us off our feet one day and boy am I’m so happy you get to be with him in the best forever you could imagine. Thank you for loving me,” Stilley added.
After a relentless search by the Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, game wardens, Border Patrol agents, the Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department, and Uvalde Emergency Medical Services, the chopper’s wreckage was found around dawn. The accident was confirmed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which stated on Sunday morning that a Bell 206B helicopter crashed in Uvalde — which sits around 80 miles west of San Antonio.
(The featured image in this article is a stock picture.)