Deschutes County

Bend pilot, crash victim, remembered by loved ones

'He was everybody's light for our family'

Bend family mourns pilot

BEND, Ore. - A Bend family is grieving for and remembering an extraordinary pilot, who had a passion for his job and loved to spend time with his family.

Thomas Hampl was killed last Thursday night in a medical helicopter crash in Central California, leaving behind his wife and three kids.

"He was my light -- he was everybody's light for our family," Sheli Hampl said through tears Sunday in a talk with NewsChannel 21.

Hampl and her husband were married for 13 years and had two boys. She said he was a caring man who came from Germany to become a pilot.

"It was love at first sight -- all of him, everything about him," she said.

Thomas Hampl was the pilot killed in the medical helicopter crash in Kern County.  Three other people were inside the chopper, including a paramedic, a nurse and a patient.

"I got a call that night from his company, letting me know that it had been late," Hampl said.

The helicopter company told her the dispatch center has lost contact with her husband's helicopter while on its way to a hospital. Her hopes her husband was still safe were shattered with another call, 15 minutes later.

"The company called back, saying that the wreckage had been found and that there were no survivors," she said.

Shock and disbelief that her husband, who she spoke just hours before via text, was gone so quickly.

She relied on her faith and hoped that her husband somehow survived the crash.

Hampl said she never thought it would happen to her husband, who was a pilot for more than 17 years, flying all over the United States, from Maui to Florida, as a map filled with pins displayed.

A best friend gone to soon, but the memories they made will live on.

"He's our family and will be, forever,," Sheli Hampl said tearfully. "I just won't be able to see him for a few years now."

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