Couple killed in chopper crash hours after vows
Hours after saying “I do” on Saturday night, a young pair of newlyweds from Texas were killed when the helicopter they were in crashed a short distance from their wedding venue.
Mr Will Byler and Ms Bailee Ackerman, both 23 and finalyear students at the Sam Houston State University, had wed at Mr Byler’s family ranch.
As they were transported from the venue later that night, their helicopter malfunctioned and crashed into a nearby hill, about 1.6km from the ranch, according to local media outlets.
Mr Eric Smith, a friend of the couple posted about their deaths on Facebook on Sunday night.
He wrote: “We celebrated their fairytale wedding and they were surrounded by their family and friends as they flew off in the family helicopter. “Sadly they crashed into the side of a hill about a mile from the family ranch.
“The pilot, Jerry, was also on board. There were no survivors! Please keep everyone associated with this tragic event in your prayers.”
The university’s student newspaper, the Houstonian, first reported the tragedy on Sunday.
The report said Mr Byler was studying agricultural engineering and belonged to the school’s rodeo team, while Ms Ackerman was studying agricultural communication.
The pilot has been identified as Mr Gerald Lawrence, 76.
Mr Lawrence’s wife told Britain’s Daily Mail on Monday that he was a private commercial pilot who worked for the helicopter business belonging to the groom’s father .
Ms Ackerman’s maid-ofhonour, Ms Jessica Stilley, paid tribute to her best friend on Instagram.
She said: “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 added: “I’m so happy you married the man of your dreams and found the precious love you deserved with him.”
Mr Will Byler and Ms Bailee Ackerman.